(1) The secretary is authorized to adopt rules establishing and providing for a program of general permits under chapter 253 and this chapter for projects, or categories of projects, which have, either singly or cumulatively, a minimal adverse environmental effect. Such rules shall specify design or performance criteria which, if applied, would result in compliance with appropriate standards adopted by the commission. Except as provided for in subsection (3), any person complying with the requirements of a general permit may use the permit 30 days after giving notice to the department without any agency action by the department.
(2) After giving public notice and, upon the request of any person, holding a public hearing in the area affected, the department may issue a general permit in the Biscayne Bay Aquatic Preserve for the placement of riprap waterward of vertical seawalls or as replacement for vertical seawalls, for the purpose of enhancing the water quality and fish and wildlife habitats of the Biscayne Bay area. No other general permits shall be issued within the preserve. Nothing herein shall be construed to abrogate the rights of any person under the provisions of chapter 120. In addition to the public notice required by this subsection, public notice shall be provided by United States mail to any person who requests, in writing, to have her or his name placed on a mailing list by the department. Notice of activities allowed pursuant to such general permit shall also be mailed, at least monthly, to all persons on the list.
(3) The department may publish or by rule require the applicant to publish, or the applicant may elect to publish, in a newspaper of general circulation in the area affected, notice of application for a general permit. If published, such public notice of application shall be published within 14 days after the applicant notifies the department; and, within 21 days after publication of notice, any person whose substantial interests are affected may request a hearing in accordance with ss. 120.569 and 120.57. The failure to request a hearing within 21 days after publication of notice constitutes a waiver of any right to a hearing under ss. 120.569 and 120.57. If notice is published, no person shall begin work pursuant to a general permit until after the time for requesting a hearing has passed or until after a hearing is held and a decision is rendered.
(4) The department is authorized to delegate any of its general permit authority to the district offices of the department or to water management districts.
(5) Notwithstanding the procedures set forth in subsections (1) and (3), the department may specify by rule alternative notice procedures for certain activities which are of a routine and repetitive nature and which are an integral part of agricultural activities or silvicultural activities or are activities of another state agency.
(6) Construction and maintenance of electric transmission or distribution lines in wetlands by electric utilities, as defined in s. 366.02, shall be authorized by general permit provided the following provisions are implemented:
(a) All permanent fill shall be at grade. Fill shall be limited to that necessary for the electrical support structures, towers, poles, guy wires, stabilizing backfill, and at-grade access roads limited to 20-foot widths; and
(b) The permittee may utilize access and work areas limited to the following: a linear access area of up to 25 feet wide between electrical support structures, an access area of up to 25 feet wide to electrical support structures from the edge of the right-of-way, and a work area around the electrical support structures, towers, poles, and guy wires. These areas may be cleared to ground, including removal of stumps as necessary; and
(c) Vegetation within wetlands may be cut or removed no lower than the soil surface under the conductor, and 20 feet to either side of the outermost conductor, while maintaining the remainder of the project right-of-way within the wetland by selectively clearing vegetation which has an expected mature height above 14 feet. Brazilian pepper, Australian pine, and melaleuca shall be eradicated throughout the wetland portion of the right-of-way; and
(d) Erosion control methods shall be implemented as necessary to ensure that state water quality standards for turbidity are met. Diversion and impoundment of surface waters shall be minimized; and
(e) The proposed construction and clearing shall not adversely affect threatened and endangered species; and
(f) The proposed construction and clearing shall not result in a permanent change in existing ground surface elevation; and
(g) Where fill is placed in wetlands, the clearing to ground of forested wetlands is restricted to 4.0 acres per 10-mile section of the project, with no more than one impact site exceeding 0.5 acres. The impact site which exceeds 0.5 acres shall not exceed 2.0 acres. The total forested wetland clearing to the ground per 10-mile section shall not exceed 15 acres. The 10-mile sections shall be measured from the beginning to the terminus, or vice versa, and the section shall not end in a wetland; and
(h) The general permit authorized by this subsection shall not apply in forested wetlands located within 550 feet from the shoreline of a named water body designated as an Outstanding Florida Water; and
(i) This subsection also applies to transmission lines and appurtenances certified under part II of this chapter. However, the criteria of the general permit shall not affect the authority of the siting board to condition certification of transmission lines as authorized under part II of this chapter.
Maintenance of existing electric lines and clearing of vegetation in wetlands conducted without the placement of structures in wetlands or other dredge and fill activities does not require an individual or general construction permit. For the purpose of this subsection, wetlands shall mean the landward extent of waters of the state regulated under s. 403.927 and isolated and nonisolated wetlands regulated under part IV of chapter 373. The provisions provided in this subsection apply to the permitting requirements of the department, any water management district, and any local government implementing part IV of chapter 373 or 1part VIII of this chapter.
(7) The department and the water management districts may provide by rule for general permits with special criteria including acreage thresholds authorizing the construction of transmission and distribution lines in forested wetlands located within 550 feet of the shoreline of a named water body designated as an Outstanding Florida Water. If a portion of a project qualifies for the general permit under subsection (6) and another portion of that project qualifies under this subsection, then a single general permit may be issued pursuant to both subsections.
(8) An aquaculture general permit shall be established for the cultivation of aquatic fish and other marine organisms, except alligators, in upland aquaculture facilities when such facilities have individual production units whose annual production and water discharge meet or exceed the parameters established by the NPDES program. Activities that have individual production units whose annual production and water discharge are less than the parameters established by the NPDES program shall be regulated pursuant to s. 403.0885(5). (9) An aquaculture general permit under s. 403.088 shall be established for the freshwater cultivation of fish and other aquatic animals, except alligators, in upland aquaculture facilities. (10) The authority to issue or deny general permits developed by the department pursuant to subsection (8) for aquaculture facilities is hereby delegated to the water management districts when they have regulatory responsibility for the facility pursuant to s. 373.046. (11) Upon agreement by the applicant, the department, and the applicable water management district, the department and water management district may reassign the regulatory responsibilities described in s. 373.046(5), based on the specific aquaculture operation, to achieve a more efficient and effective permitting process.