Florida Senate - 2024                             CS for SB 1136
       By the Committee on Community Affairs; and Senator Trumbull
       578-02602-24                                          20241136c1
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to the regulation of water resources;
    3         amending s. 373.323, F.S.; revising the qualification
    4         requirements a person must meet in order to take the
    5         water well contractor license examination; updating
    6         the reference to the Florida Building Code standards
    7         that a licensed water well contractor’s work must
    8         meet; amending s. 373.333, F.S.; authorizing certain
    9         authorities who have been delegated enforcement powers
   10         by water management districts to apply disciplinary
   11         guidelines adopted by the districts; requiring that
   12         certain notices be delivered by certified, rather than
   13         registered, mail; making technical changes; amending
   14         s. 373.336, F.S.; prohibiting a person or business
   15         entity from advertising water well drilling or
   16         construction services in specified circumstances;
   17         amending s. 381.0065, F.S.; requiring that certain
   18         rules adopted by Department of Environmental
   19         Protection relating to the location of onsite sewage
   20         treatment and disposal systems allow licensed water
   21         well contractors to apply for and receive from the
   22         water management district within the region of
   23         installation a variance for private or public potable
   24         well installations; deleting provisions relating to
   25         the variance review and advisory committee for onsite
   26         sewage treatment and disposal system permits;
   27         providing an effective date.
   29  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   31         Section 1. Subsections (3) and (10) of section 373.323,
   32  Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
   33         373.323 Licensure of water well contractors; application,
   34  qualifications, and examinations; equipment identification.—
   35         (3) An applicant who meets all of the following
   36  requirements is eligible shall be entitled to take the water
   37  well contractor licensure examination:
   38         (a) Is at least 18 years of age.
   39         (b) Has at least 2 years of experience in constructing,
   40  repairing, or abandoning water wells permitted in this state.
   41  The applicant must demonstrate satisfactory proof of such
   42  experience shall be demonstrated by providing:
   43         1. Evidence of the length of time he or she the applicant
   44  has been engaged in the business of the construction, repair, or
   45  abandonment of water wells as a major activity, as attested to
   46  by a letter from a water well contractor or a letter from a
   47  water well inspector employed by a governmental agency.
   48         2. A list of at least 10 water wells permitted in this
   49  state which he or she that the applicant has constructed,
   50  repaired, or abandoned within the preceding 5 years. Of these
   51  wells, at least seven must have been constructed, as defined in
   52  s. 373.303(2), by the applicant. The list must shall also
   53  include:
   54         a. The name and address of the owner or owners of each
   55  well.
   56         b. The location, primary use, and approximate depth and
   57  diameter of each well that the applicant has constructed,
   58  repaired, or abandoned.
   59         c. The approximate date the construction, repair, or
   60  abandonment of each well was completed.
   61         (c) Has completed the application form and remitted a
   62  nonrefundable application fee.
   63         (10) Water well contractors licensed under this section may
   64  install, repair, and modify pumps and tanks in accordance with
   65  the Florida Building Code, Plumbing; Section 614-Wells Section
   66  612—Wells Pumps And Tanks Used For Private Potable Water
   67  Systems. In addition, licensed water well contractors may
   68  install pumps, tanks, and water conditioning equipment for all
   69  water systems.
   70         Section 2. Subsections (1) and (3) of section 373.333,
   71  Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
   72         373.333 Disciplinary guidelines; adoption and enforcement;
   73  license suspension or revocation.—
   74         (1) The department shall adopt by rule disciplinary
   75  guidelines applicable to each specific ground for disciplinary
   76  action which may be imposed by the water management districts,
   77  providing each water management district and representatives of
   78  the water well contracting industry with meaningful opportunity
   79  to participate in the development of the disciplinary guideline
   80  rules as they are drafted. The disciplinary guidelines must
   81  shall be adopted by each water management district. The
   82  guideline rules must shall be consistently applied by the water
   83  management districts, or by an authority to whom a water
   84  management district has delegated enforcement powers, and must
   85  do all of the following shall:
   86         (a) Specify a meaningful range of designated penalties
   87  based upon the severity and repetition of specific offenses.
   88         (b) Distinguish minor violations from those which endanger
   89  public health, safety, and welfare or contaminate the water
   90  resources.
   91         (c) Inform the public of likely penalties which may be
   92  imposed for proscribed conduct.
   94  A specific finding of mitigating or aggravating circumstances
   95  shall allow a water management district to impose a penalty
   96  other than that provided in the guidelines. Disciplinary action
   97  may be taken by any water management district, regardless of
   98  where the contractor’s license was issued.
   99         (3) Such notice must shall be served in the manner required
  100  by law for the service of process upon a person in a civil
  101  action or by certified registered United States mail to the last
  102  known address of the person. The water management district shall
  103  send copies of such notice only to persons who have specifically
  104  requested such notice or to entities with which the water
  105  management district has formally agreed to provide such notice.
  106  Notice alleging a violation of a rule setting minimum standards
  107  for the location, construction, repair, or abandonment of wells
  108  must shall be accompanied by an order of the water management
  109  district requiring remedial action which, if taken within the
  110  time specified in such order, will effect compliance with the
  111  requirements of this part and regulations issued hereunder. Such
  112  order is shall become final unless a request for hearing as
  113  provided in chapter 120 is made within 30 days after from the
  114  date of service of such order. Upon compliance, notice must
  115  shall be served by the water management district in a timely
  116  manner upon each person and entity who received notice of a
  117  violation, stating that compliance with the order has been
  118  achieved.
  119         Section 3. Subsections (1) and (3) of section 373.336,
  120  Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  121         373.336 Unlawful acts; penalties.—
  122         (1) It is unlawful for any person or business entity, as
  123  applicable, to do any of the following:
  124         (a) Practice water well contracting without an active
  125  license issued pursuant to this part.
  126         (b) Construct, repair, or abandon a water well, or operate
  127  drilling equipment for such purpose, unless employed by or under
  128  the supervision of a licensed water well contractor or exempt
  129  under s. 373.326.
  130         (c) Give false or forged evidence to obtain a license.
  131         (d) Present as his or her own the license of another.
  132         (e) Use or attempt to use a license to practice water well
  133  contracting which license has been suspended, revoked, or placed
  134  on inactive status.
  135         (f) Engage in willful or repeated violation of this part or
  136  of any department rule or regulation or water management
  137  district or state agency rule or regulation relating to water
  138  wells which endangers the public health, safety, and welfare.
  139         (g) Advertise water well drilling or construction services
  140  if the business entity is not owned by a licensed water well
  141  contractor or does not employ a full-time water well contractor.
  142         (3) A Any person who violates any provision of this part or
  143  a regulation or an order issued hereunder commits shall, upon
  144  conviction, be guilty of a misdemeanor of the second degree,
  145  punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Continuing
  146  violation after an order or a conviction constitutes shall
  147  constitute a separate violation for each day so continued.
  148         Section 4. Paragraphs (e), (h), and (w) of subsection (4)
  149  of section 381.0065, Florida Statutes, are amended to read:
  150         381.0065 Onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems;
  151  regulation.—
  152         (4) PERMITS; INSTALLATION; CONDITIONS.—A person may not
  153  construct, repair, modify, abandon, or operate an onsite sewage
  154  treatment and disposal system without first obtaining a permit
  155  approved by the department. The department may issue permits to
  156  carry out this section, except that the issuance of a permit for
  157  work seaward of the coastal construction control line
  158  established under s. 161.053 shall be contingent upon receipt of
  159  any required coastal construction control line permit from the
  160  department. A construction permit is valid for 18 months after
  161  the date of issuance and may be extended by the department for
  162  one 90-day period under rules adopted by the department. A
  163  repair permit is valid for 90 days after the date of issuance.
  164  An operating permit must be obtained before the use of any
  165  aerobic treatment unit or if the establishment generates
  166  commercial waste. Buildings or establishments that use an
  167  aerobic treatment unit or generate commercial waste shall be
  168  inspected by the department at least annually to assure
  169  compliance with the terms of the operating permit. The operating
  170  permit for a commercial wastewater system is valid for 1 year
  171  after the date of issuance and must be renewed annually. The
  172  operating permit for an aerobic treatment unit is valid for 2
  173  years after the date of issuance and must be renewed every 2
  174  years. If all information pertaining to the siting, location,
  175  and installation conditions or repair of an onsite sewage
  176  treatment and disposal system remains the same, a construction
  177  or repair permit for the onsite sewage treatment and disposal
  178  system may be transferred to another person, if the transferee
  179  files, within 60 days after the transfer of ownership, an
  180  amended application providing all corrected information and
  181  proof of ownership of the property. A fee is not associated with
  182  the processing of this supplemental information. A person may
  183  not contract to construct, modify, alter, repair, service,
  184  abandon, or maintain any portion of an onsite sewage treatment
  185  and disposal system without being registered under part III of
  186  chapter 489. A property owner who personally performs
  187  construction, maintenance, or repairs to a system serving his or
  188  her own owner-occupied single-family residence is exempt from
  189  registration requirements for performing such construction,
  190  maintenance, or repairs on that residence, but is subject to all
  191  permitting requirements. A municipality or political subdivision
  192  of the state may not issue a building or plumbing permit for any
  193  building that requires the use of an onsite sewage treatment and
  194  disposal system unless the owner or builder has received a
  195  construction permit for such system from the department. A
  196  building or structure may not be occupied and a municipality,
  197  political subdivision, or any state or federal agency may not
  198  authorize occupancy until the department approves the final
  199  installation of the onsite sewage treatment and disposal system.
  200  A municipality or political subdivision of the state may not
  201  approve any change in occupancy or tenancy of a building that
  202  uses an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system until the
  203  department has reviewed the use of the system with the proposed
  204  change, approved the change, and amended the operating permit.
  205         (e) The department shall adopt rules relating to the
  206  location of onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems,
  207  including establishing setback distances, to prevent groundwater
  208  contamination and surface water contamination and to preserve
  209  the public health. In adopting such rules, the department rules
  210  must:
  211         1. Consider conventional and enhanced nutrient-reducing
  212  onsite sewage treatment and disposal system designs, impaired or
  213  degraded water bodies, domestic wastewater and drinking water
  214  infrastructure, potable water sources, nonpotable wells,
  215  stormwater infrastructure, the onsite sewage treatment and
  216  disposal system remediation plans developed pursuant to s.
  217  403.067(7)(a)9.b., nutrient pollution, and the recommendations
  218  of the onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems technical
  219  advisory committee established pursuant to former s. 381.00652.
  220         2.The rules must also Allow a person to apply for and
  221  receive a variance from a rule requirement upon demonstration
  222  that the requirement would cause an undue hardship and that
  223  granting the variance would not cause or contribute to the
  224  exceedance of a total maximum daily load.
  225         3. In consultation with the water management districts,
  226  allow a licensed water well contractor to apply for and receive
  227  a variance for the installation of a private or public potable
  228  water well from the applicable water management district within
  229  the region of installation.
  230         (h)1. The department may grant variances in hardship cases
  231  which may be less restrictive than the provisions specified in
  232  this section. If a variance is granted and the onsite sewage
  233  treatment and disposal system construction permit has been
  234  issued, the variance may be transferred with the system
  235  construction permit, if the transferee files, within 60 days
  236  after the transfer of ownership, an amended construction permit
  237  application providing all corrected information and proof of
  238  ownership of the property and if the same variance would have
  239  been required for the new owner of the property as was
  240  originally granted to the original applicant for the variance. A
  241  fee is not associated with the processing of this supplemental
  242  information. A variance may not be granted under this section
  243  until the department is satisfied that:
  244         1.a. The hardship was not caused intentionally by the
  245  action of the applicant;
  246         2.b. A reasonable alternative, taking into consideration
  247  factors such as cost, does not exist for the treatment of the
  248  sewage; and
  249         3.c. The discharge from the onsite sewage treatment and
  250  disposal system will not adversely affect the health of the
  251  applicant or the public or significantly degrade the groundwater
  252  or surface waters.
  254  Where soil conditions, water table elevation, and setback
  255  provisions are determined by the department to be satisfactory,
  256  special consideration must be given to those lots platted before
  257  1972.
  258         2. The department shall appoint and staff a variance review
  259  and advisory committee, which shall meet monthly to recommend
  260  agency action on variance requests. The committee shall make its
  261  recommendations on variance requests at the meeting in which the
  262  application is scheduled for consideration, except for an
  263  extraordinary change in circumstances, the receipt of new
  264  information that raises new issues, or when the applicant
  265  requests an extension. The committee shall consider the criteria
  266  in subparagraph 1. in its recommended agency action on variance
  267  requests and shall also strive to allow property owners the full
  268  use of their land where possible. The committee consists of the
  269  following:
  270         a. The Secretary of Environmental Protection or his or her
  271  designee.
  272         b. A representative from the county health departments.
  273         c. A representative from the home building industry
  274  recommended by the Florida Home Builders Association.
  275         d. A representative from the septic tank industry
  276  recommended by the Florida Onsite Wastewater Association.
  277         e. A representative from the Department of Health.
  278         f. A representative from the real estate industry who is
  279  also a developer in this state who develops lots using onsite
  280  sewage treatment and disposal systems, recommended by the
  281  Florida Association of Realtors.
  282         g. A representative from the engineering profession
  283  recommended by the Florida Engineering Society.
  285  Members shall be appointed for a term of 3 years, with such
  286  appointments being staggered so that the terms of no more than
  287  two members expire in any one year. Members shall serve without
  288  remuneration, but if requested, shall be reimbursed for per diem
  289  and travel expenses as provided in s. 112.061.
  290         (w) A governmental entity, including a municipality,
  291  county, or statutorily created commission, may not require an
  292  engineer-designed performance-based treatment system, excluding
  293  a passive engineer-designed performance-based treatment system,
  294  before the completion of the Florida Onsite Sewage Nitrogen
  295  Reduction Strategies Project. This paragraph does not apply to a
  296  governmental entity, including a municipality, county, or
  297  statutorily created commission, which adopted a local law,
  298  ordinance, or regulation on or before January 31, 2012.
  299  Notwithstanding this paragraph, an engineer-designed
  300  performance-based treatment system may be used to meet the
  301  requirements of the variance review and advisory committee
  302  recommendations.
  303         Section 5. This act shall take effect July 1, 2024.