Online Sunshine Logo
Official Internet Site of the Florida Legislature
May 28, 2024
Text: 'NEW Advanced Legislative Search'
Interpreter Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing
Go to MyFlorida House
Go to MyFlorida House
Select Year:  
The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Title XXVIII
NATURAL RESOURCES; CONSERVATION, RECLAMATION, AND USE
Chapter 373
WATER RESOURCES
View Entire Chapter
F.S. 373.469
373.469 Indian River Lagoon Protection Program.
(1) FINDINGS AND INTENT.
(a) The Legislature finds that:
1. The Indian River Lagoon is a critical water resource of this state which provides many economic, natural habitat, and biodiversity functions that benefit the public interest, including fishing, navigation, recreation, and habitat to endangered and threatened species and other flora and fauna.
2. Among other causes, land use changes, onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems, aging infrastructure, stormwater runoff, agriculture, and residential fertilizer have resulted in excess nutrients entering the Indian River Lagoon and adversely impacting the lagoon’s water quality.
3. Improvement to the hydrology, water quality, and associated aquatic habitats within the Indian River Lagoon is essential to the protection of the resource.
4. It is imperative for the state, local governments, and agricultural and environmental communities to commit to restoring and protecting the surface water resources of the Indian River Lagoon, and a holistic approach to address these issues must be developed and implemented immediately.
5. The expeditious implementation of the Banana River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, Central Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, North Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, and Mosquito Lagoon Reasonable Assurance Plan are necessary to improve the quality of water in the Indian River Lagoon ecosystem and to provide a reasonable means of achieving the total maximum daily load requirements and achieving and maintaining compliance with state water quality standards.
6. The implementation of the programs contained in this section will benefit the public health, safety, and welfare and is in the public interest.
(b) The Legislature intends for this state to protect and restore surface water resources and achieve and maintain compliance with water quality standards in the Indian River Lagoon through the phased, comprehensive, and innovative protection program set forth in this section, including long-term solutions based upon the total maximum daily loads established in accordance with s. 403.067. This program is watershed-based, provides for the consideration of all water quality issues needed to meet the total maximum daily load, and includes research and monitoring, development and implementation of best management practices, refinement of existing regulations, and structural and nonstructural projects, including public works.
(2) DEFINITIONS.As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Best management practice” means a practice or combination of practices determined by the coordinating agencies, based on research, field-testing, and expert review, to be the most effective and practicable on-location means, including economic and technological considerations, for improving water quality in agricultural and urban discharges. Best management practices for agricultural discharges must reflect a balance between water quality improvements and agricultural productivity.
(b) “Enhanced nutrient-reducing onsite sewage treatment and disposal system” means an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system approved by the department as capable of meeting or exceeding a 50 percent total nitrogen reduction before disposal of wastewater in the drainfield, or at least 65 percent total nitrogen reduction combined from onsite sewage tank or tanks and drainfield.
(c) “Total maximum daily load” means the sum of the individual wasteload allocations for point sources and the load allocations for nonpoint sources and natural background adopted pursuant to s. 403.067. Before determining individual wasteload allocations and load allocations, the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody or water segment can assimilate from all sources without exceeding water quality standards must first be calculated.
(3) THE INDIAN RIVER LAGOON PROTECTION PROGRAM.The Indian River Lagoon Protection Program consists of the Banana River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, Central Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, North Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, and Mosquito Lagoon Reasonable Assurance Plan, and such plans are the components of the Indian River Lagoon Protection Program which achieve phosphorous and nitrogen load reductions for the Indian River Lagoon.
(a) Evaluation.Every 5 years, the department shall evaluate and update the Banana River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, Central Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, and North Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan and identify any further load reductions necessary to achieve compliance with the relevant total maximum daily loads established pursuant to s. 403.067. As provided in s. 403.067(7)(a)6., such plans must include 5-year milestones for implementation and water quality improvement and a water quality monitoring component sufficient to evaluate whether reasonable progress in pollutant load reductions is being achieved over time.
(b) Water quality standards and total maximum daily loads.The department, in coordination with the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the South Florida Water Management District, local governments, the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, and other stakeholders, shall identify and prioritize strategies and projects necessary to achieve water quality standards within the Indian River Lagoon watershed and meet the total maximum daily loads. Projects identified from this evaluation must be incorporated into the Banana River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, Central Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, North Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, and Mosquito Lagoon Reasonable Assurance Plan, as appropriate.
(c) Indian River Lagoon Watershed Research and Water Quality Monitoring Program.The department, in coordination with the St. Johns River Water Management District, the South Florida Water Management District, and the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program, shall implement the Indian River Lagoon Watershed Research and Water Quality Monitoring Program to establish a comprehensive water quality monitoring network throughout the Indian River Lagoon and fund research pertaining to water quality, ecosystem restoration, and seagrass impacts and restoration. The department shall use the results from the program to prioritize projects and to make modifications to the Banana River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, Central Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, North Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, and Mosquito Lagoon Reasonable Assurance Plan, as appropriate.
(d) Onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems.
1. Beginning on January 1, 2024, unless previously permitted, the installation of new onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems is prohibited within the Banana River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, Central Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, North Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, and Mosquito Lagoon Reasonable Assurance Plan areas where a publicly owned or investor-owned sewerage system is available as defined in s. 381.0065(2)(a). Where central sewerage is not available, only enhanced nutrient-reducing onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems or other wastewater treatment systems that achieve at least 65 percent nitrogen reduction are authorized.
2. By July 1, 2030, any commercial or residential property with an existing onsite sewage treatment and disposal system located within the Banana River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, Central Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, North Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plan, and Mosquito Lagoon Reasonable Assurance Plan areas must connect to central sewer if available or upgrade to an enhanced nutrient-reducing onsite sewage treatment and disposal system or other wastewater treatment system that achieves at least 65 percent nitrogen reduction.
(4) RELATIONSHIP TO STATE WATER QUALITY STANDARDS.This section may not be construed to modify any existing state water quality standard or to modify s. 403.067(6) and (7)(a).
(5) PRESERVATION OF AUTHORITY.This section may not be construed to restrict the authority otherwise granted to agencies pursuant to this chapter and chapter 403, and this section is supplemental to the authority granted to agencies pursuant to this chapter and chapter 403.
(6) RULES.The department and governing boards of the St. Johns River Water Management District and the South Florida Water Management District may adopt rules pursuant to ss. 120.536(1) and 120.54 to implement this section.
History.s. 5, ch. 2023-169.