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