2023 Florida Statutes< Back to Statute Search
Title XXVIII NATURAL RESOURCES; CONSERVATION, RECLAMATION, AND USE
Chapter 373 WATER RESOURCES
SECTION 4598Water storage reservoirs.
373.4598 Water storage reservoirs.—
(1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS AND INTENT.—
(a) The Legislature declares that an emergency exists regarding the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries due to the high-volume freshwater discharges to the east and west of the lake. Such discharges have manifested in widespread algae blooms, public health impacts, and extensive environmental harm to wildlife and the aquatic ecosystem. These conditions, as outlined in the state of emergency declared by the Governor under Executive Orders 16-59, 16-155, and 16-156, threaten the ecological integrity of the estuaries and the economic viability of the state and affected communities.
(b) The Legislature finds that increasing water storage is necessary to reduce the high-volume freshwater discharges from the lake to the estuaries and restore the hydrological connection to the Everglades. CERP projects necessary to reduce the discharges and improve the flows to the Everglades should receive priority funding, such as the Lake Okeechobee Watershed project to the north of the lake; the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir project to the south of the lake; the C-43 West Basin Reservoir Storage project to the west of the lake; and the Indian River Lagoon-South project to the east of the lake.
(c) The Legislature finds that the rate of funding for CERP must be increased if restoration will be achieved within the timeframe originally envisioned and that the delay in substantial progress toward completing critical elements of restoration, such as southern storage, will cause irreparable harm to natural systems and, ultimately, increase the cost of restoration. A substantial commitment to the advancement of projects identified as part of CERP will reduce ongoing ecological damage to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
(d) The Legislature recognizes that the EAA reservoir project was conditionally authorized in the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 as a project component of CERP. Unless other funding is available, the Legislature directs the district, in the implementation of the reservoir project, to abide by applicable state and federal law in order to do that which is required to obtain federal credit under CERP. If the district implements the EAA reservoir project as a project component as defined in s. 373.1501, the district must abide by all applicable state and federal law relating to such projects.
(e) This section is not intended to diminish the commitments made by the state in chapter 2016-201, Laws of Florida.
(2) DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:
(a) “A-1 parcel” means an area of district-owned land located between the Miami Canal and North New River Canal consisting of approximately 17,000 acres which is bordered to the north by private agricultural lands, to the east by U.S. Highway 27, to the south by Stormwater Treatment Area 3/4, and to the west by the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area and the A-2 parcel.
(b) “A-2 parcel” means an area of district-owned land located between the Miami Canal and the North New River Canal consisting of approximately 14,000 acres of land to the east of the Miami Canal which is bordered to the north by private agricultural lands, to the east by the A-1 parcel, and to the south by the Holey Land Wildlife Management Area.
(c) “Board” means the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund.
(d) “Central Everglades Planning Project” or “CEPP” means the suite of CERP projects authorized as the “Central Everglades” project in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act, Pub. L. No. 114-322.
(e) “Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan” or “CERP” has the same meaning as the term “comprehensive plan” as defined in s. 373.470.
(f) “Corps” means the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
(g) “District” means the South Florida Water Management District.
(h) “Everglades Agricultural Area” or “EAA” has the same meaning as in s. 373.4592.
(i) “EAA reservoir project” means the Everglades Agricultural Area storage reservoir, known as Component G of CERP. The term includes any necessary water quality features that are required to meet state and federal water quality standards.
(j) “Lake” means Lake Okeechobee.
(k) “Option agreement” means the Second Amended and Restated Agreement for Sale and Purchase between the seller, United States Sugar Corporation, SBG Farms, Inc., and Southern Garden Groves Corporation, and the buyer, the South Florida Water Management District, dated August 12, 2010.
(3) EAA LEASE AGREEMENTS.—
(a) The district and the board are authorized to negotiate the amendment or termination of leases on lands within the EAA for exchange or use for the EAA reservoir project. Any such lease must be terminated in accordance with the lease terms or upon the voluntary agreement of the lessor and lessee. In the event of any such lease termination, the lessee must be permitted to continue to farm on a field-by-field basis until such time as the lessee’s operations are incompatible with implementation of the EAA reservoir project, as reasonably determined by the lessor. The district and the board may include the swapping of land, assignment of leases, and other methods of providing valuable consideration in negotiating the amendments to or termination of such lease agreements.
(b) Any lease agreement relating to land in the EAA leased to the Prison Rehabilitative Industries and Diversified Enterprises, Inc., (PRIDE Enterprises) for an agricultural work program is required to be terminated in accordance with the terms of the lease agreement. Any such land previously leased may be made available by the board to the district for exchange for lands suitable for the EAA reservoir project or may be leased for agricultural purposes. The terms of any such lease must include provisions authorizing the lessor to terminate the lease at any time during the lease term as to any portion, or all of the premises, to be used for an environmental restoration purpose. The terms of the lease may not require more than 1 year’s notice in order for such termination to be effective. Any agricultural owner managing lands subject to an agreement with PRIDE shall be given the right of first refusal in leasing any such lands.
(c) If, after any termination of an EAA lease agreement, ratoon, stubble, or residual crop remaining on the lease premises is harvested or otherwise used by the lessor or any third party, the lessee is entitled to be compensated for any documented, unamortized planting costs, and any unamortized capital costs associated with the lease and incurred before notice.
(4) LAND ACQUISITION.—The Legislature declares that acquiring land to increase water storage south of the lake is in the public interest and that the governing board of the district may acquire land, if necessary, to implement the EAA reservoir project with the goal of providing at least 240,000 acre-feet of water storage south of the lake. The use of eminent domain in the EAA for the purpose of implementing the EAA reservoir project is prohibited.
(a) Effective May 9, 2017, the district shall identify the lessees of the approximately 3,200 acres of land owned by the state or the district west of the A-2 parcel and east of the Miami Canal and the private property owners of the approximately 500 acres of land surrounded by such lands.
(b) By July 31, 2017, the district shall contact the lessors and landowners of the land identified pursuant paragraph (a) to express the district’s interest in acquiring land through the purchase or exchange of lands or by the amendment or termination of lease agreements. If land swaps or purchases are necessary to assemble the required acreage, the participation of private landowners must be voluntary. The district shall contact the board to request that any lease of land identified pursuant to paragraph (a), the title to which is vested in the board, be amended or terminated. All appraisal reports, offers, and counteroffers in relation to this subsection are confidential and exempt from s. 119.07(1), as provided in s. 373.139.
(c) The board shall provide to the district, through direct acquisition in fee or by a supplemental agreement, any land, the title to which is vested in the board, that the district identifies as necessary to construct the EAA reservoir project.
(d) The total acreage necessary for additional water treatment may not exceed the amount reasonably required to meet state and federal water quality standards as determined using the water quality modeling tools of the district. The district shall use the latest version of the Dynamic Model for Stormwater Treatment Areas Model modeling tool and other modeling tools that will be required in the planning and design of the EAA reservoir project. If additional land not identified in paragraph (a) is necessary for the EAA reservoir project, the district shall acquire that land from willing sellers of property in conjunction with the development of the post-authorization change report.
(5) POST-AUTHORIZATION CHANGE REPORT.—
(a) The district is directed to request, by July 1, 2017, that the corps jointly develop a post-authorization change report with the district for CEPP to revise the project component located on the A-2 parcel with the goal of increasing water storage provided by the project component to a minimum of 240,000 acre-feet. Upon agreement with the corps, development of the report must begin by August 1, 2017, and does not preclude the implementation of the remaining CEPP project components.
(b) Using the A-2 parcel and the additional land identified pursuant to subsection (4) and without modifying the A-1 parcel, the report must evaluate:
1. The optimal configuration of the EAA reservoir project for providing at least 240,000 acre-feet of water storage; and
2. Any necessary increases in canal conveyance capacity to reduce the discharges to the St. Lucie or Caloosahatchee estuaries.
(c) If the district and the corps determine that an alternate configuration of water storage and water quality features providing for significantly more water storage, but no less than 360,000 acre-feet of water storage, south of the lake can be implemented on a footprint that includes modification to the A-1 parcel, the district is authorized to recommend such an alternative configuration in the report. Any such recommendation must include sufficient water quality treatment capacity to meet state and federal water quality standards.
(d) Pending congressional approval of the report, the district may begin the preliminary planning or construction of, or modification to, the project site to the extent appropriate, subject to the availability of funding. Upon receipt of congressional approval of the report, construction of the EAA reservoir project shall be completed parallel with construction of the other CEPP project components, subject to the availability of funding.
(e) The district must report the status of the post-authorization change report to the Legislature by January 9, 2018. The status report must include information on the district’s ability to obtain lease modifications and land acquisitions as provided in subsection (4). If the district in good faith believes that the post-authorization change report will receive ultimate approval but that an extension of the deadline provided in paragraph (7)(a) is needed, the district must include such a request in its status report and may be granted an extension by the Legislature. Any such extension must include a corresponding date by which the district must request the corps to initiate the project implementation report for the EAA reservoir project and may proceed with the implementation of CEPP project components in accordance with the final project implementation report.
(6) OPTION AGREEMENT.—The district must terminate the option agreement at the request of the seller if:
(a) The post-authorization change report receives congressional approval; or
(b) The district certifies to the board, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives that the acquisition of the land necessary for the EAA reservoir project, as provided in subsection (4), has been completed.
(7) PROJECT IMPLEMENTATION REPORT.—
(a) If, for any reason, the post-authorization change report is not approved by the corps and submitted for congressional approval by October 1, 2018, or the post-authorization change report has not received congressional approval by December 31, 2019, the district, unless granted an extension by the Legislature, must request the corps to initiate a project implementation report, as defined in s. 373.470, for the EAA reservoir project and the district may proceed with the implementation of CEPP project components in accordance with the final project implementation report.
(b) The district, when developing the project implementation report, must focus on the goals of the EAA reservoir project as identified in CERP, which include providing additional water storage and conveyance south of the lake to reduce the volume of regulatory discharges of water from the lake to the east and west.
(c) Upon finalization of the project implementation report, as defined in s. 373.470, the district, in coordination with the corps, shall seek congressional authorization for the EAA reservoir project.
(8) AGRICULTURAL WORKERS.—The district shall give preferential consideration to the hiring of former agricultural workers primarily employed during 36 of the past 60 months in the Everglades Agricultural Area, consistent with their qualifications and abilities, for the construction and operation of the EAA reservoir project. Any contract or subcontract for the construction and operation of the EAA reservoir project in which 50 percent or more of the cost is paid from state-appropriated funds must provide preference and priority in the hiring of such agricultural workers. The district shall give preferential consideration to contract proposals that include in the contractor’s hiring practices training programs for such workers.
(9) C-51 RESERVOIR PROJECT.—
(a) The C-51 reservoir project is a water storage facility as defined in s. 373.475. The C-51 reservoir project is located in western Palm Beach County south of the lake and consists of in-ground reservoirs and conveyance structures that will provide water supply and water management benefits to participating water supply utilities and will also provide environmental benefits by reducing freshwater discharges to tide and making water available for natural systems.
(b) Phase I of the project will provide approximately 14,000 acre-feet of water storage and will hydraulically connect to the district’s L-8 Flow Equalization Basin. Phase II of the project will provide approximately 46,000 acre-feet of water storage, for a total increase of 60,000 acre-feet of water storage.
(c) The district may negotiate with the owners of the C-51 reservoir project site for the acquisition of any portion of the project not already committed to utilities for alternative water supply purposes or to enter into a public-private partnership. The district may acquire land near the C-51 reservoir through the purchase or exchange of land that is owned by the district or the state as necessary to implement the project. The state and the district may consider potential swaps of land that is owned by the state or the district to achieve an optimal combination of water quality and water storage. The district may not exercise eminent domain for the purpose of implementing the C-51 reservoir project.
(d) If state funds are appropriated for the C-51 reservoir project:
1. The district, to the extent practicable, must operate the reservoir project to maximize the reduction of high-volume Lake Okeechobee regulatory releases to the St. Lucie or Caloosahatchee estuaries, in addition to maximizing the reduction of harmful discharges to the Lake Worth Lagoon. However, the operation of Phase I of the C-51 reservoir project must be in accordance with any operation and maintenance agreement approved by the district;
2. In addition to any permitted amounts for water supply, water made available by the reservoir project must be used for natural systems; and
3. Water received from Lake Okeechobee may be available to support consumptive use permits only if such use is in accordance with district rules.
(e) Phase I of the C-51 reservoir project may be funded by appropriation or through the water storage facility revolving loan fund as provided in s. 373.475. Phase II of the C-51 reservoir project may be funded by appropriation, pursuant to this section, pursuant to s. 373.475, as a project component of CERP, or pursuant to s. 375.041(3)(b)4.
(a) The Legislature determines that the authorization and issuance of Florida Forever bonds for the purposes of this section is in the best interest of the state and determines that water storage reservoir projects should be implemented.
(b) Any cost related to this section, including, but not limited to, the costs for land acquisition, planning, and construction may be funded using proceeds from Florida Forever bonds issued under s. 215.618, in an amount of up to $800 million, as authorized under that section. The bond proceeds from bonds issued for the purposes of this section shall be deposited into the Everglades Trust Fund.
(c) Notwithstanding s. 373.026(8)(b) or any other provision of law, the use of state funds is authorized for the EAA reservoir project.
(d) The district shall actively seek additional sources of funding, including federal funding, for the reservoir project.
(11) LAKE OKEECHOBEE REGULATION SCHEDULE.—The district shall request that the corps pursue the reevaluation of the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule as expeditiously as possible, taking into consideration the repairs made to the Herbert Hoover Dike and implementation of projects designed to reduce high-volume freshwater discharges from the lake, in order to optimally utilize the added water storage capacity to reduce the high-volume freshwater discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.
History.—ss. 3, 9, ch. 2017-10; s. 1, ch. 2019-68.