Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act now adopted
The 2016 Florida Legislature adopted SB 552, a long-awaited, comprehensive water bill that tackled issues from Everglades restoration to water supply and created the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act (the Springs Protection Act or the Act), which is now Part VIII of Chapter 373, Florida Statutes. See Ch. 2016-1, § 22 et seq., Laws of Fla.
The Springs Protection Act is aimed at protecting Florida springs fed by the Floridan Aquifer, one of two aquifer systems which underlie the majority of the state (the other is the Biscayne Aquifer, located in an area stretching from Boca Raton to the Florida Keys) and one of the most productive aquifers in the world. As the legislature recognized, the “[w]ater quality of springs is an indicator of local conditions of the Floridan Aquifer,” and these springs are threatened by polluted runoff, discharges resulting from inadequate wastewater and stormwater management practices, and reduced water levels of the Floridan Aquifer from withdrawals. The Act focuses on the water quantity and quality of Florida’s springs.
The Springs Protection Act builds on existing law, including the Florida Water Resources Act and the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act, and requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to adopt:
- recovery and prevention strategies to ensure that water levels at Florida’s springs do not fall below established Minimum Levels; and
- basin management action plans (BMAPs) to ensure that pollutant levels in Florida’s springs are below established Total Maximum Daily Loads.