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The Florida Statutes

The 2023 Florida Statutes (including Special Session C)

Chapter 373
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F.S. 373.475
373.475 Water storage facility revolving loan fund.
(1)(a) In recognition that waters of the state are among the state’s most basic resources, the Legislature declares that such waters should be managed to conserve and protect water resources and to realize the full beneficial use of such resources.
(b) As natural storage within the system has been lost due to development, the Legislature finds that additional natural or manmade water storage is required to capture and prevent water from being discharged to tide or otherwise lost.
(c) The Legislature finds that establishing infrastructure financing and providing technical assistance to local governments or water supply entities for water storage facilities is necessary to conserve and protect the waters of the state.
(2) For purposes of this section, the term:
(a) “Local governmental agency” means any municipality, county, district, or authority, or any agency thereof, or a combination of such, acting jointly in connection with a project, which has jurisdiction over a water storage facility.
(b) “Water storage facility” or “facility” means all facilities, including land, necessary for an above-ground or in-ground reservoir. Such facilities may be publicly owned, privately owned, investor-owned, or cooperatively held.
(3) The state, through the department, shall provide funding assistance to local governments or water supply entities for the development and construction of water storage facilities to increase the availability of sufficient water for all existing and future reasonable-beneficial uses and natural systems.
(a) The department may make loans, provide loan guarantees, purchase loan insurance, and refinance local debt through the issue of new loans for water storage facilities approved by the department. Local governments or water supply entities may borrow funds made available pursuant to this section and may pledge any revenues or other adequate security available to them to repay any funds borrowed.
(b) The department may award loan amounts for up to 75 percent of the costs of planning, designing, constructing, upgrading, or replacing water resource infrastructure or facilities, whether natural or manmade, including the acquisition of real property for water storage facilities.
(4) The department shall adopt rules to carry out the purposes of this section. Such rules must:
(a) Establish a priority system for loans based on compliance with state requirements. The priority system must give special consideration to:
1. Projects that provide for the development of alternative water supply projects and management techniques in areas where existing source waters are limited or threatened by saltwater intrusion, excessive drawdowns, contamination, or other problems;
2. Projects that contribute to the sustainability of regional water sources;
3. Projects that produce additional water available for consumptive uses or natural systems;
4. Projects that diversify water supply so that the needs of consumptive uses and the natural system are met during wet and dry conditions; or
5. Projects that provide flexibility in addressing the unpredictability of water conditions from water year to water year.
(b) Establish the requirements for the award and repayment of financial assistance.
(c) Require evidence of credit worthiness and adequate security, including an identification of revenues to be pledged and documentation of their sufficiency for loan repayment and pledged revenue coverage to ensure that each loan recipient can meet its loan repayment requirements.
(d) Require each project receiving financial assistance to be cost-effective, environmentally sound, and implementable.
(e) Require each project to be self-supporting if the project is primarily for the purpose of water supply for consumptive use.
(5) Before approval of a loan, the local government or water supply entity must, at a minimum, submit all of the following to the department:
(a) A repayment schedule.
(b) Evidence of the permittability or implementability of the facility proposed for financial assistance.
(c) Plans and specifications, biddable contract documents, or other documentation of appropriate procurement of goods and services.
(d) Written assurance that records will be kept using generally accepted accounting principles and that the department or its agents and the Auditor General will have access to all records pertaining to the loan.
(e) If the facility is required to be self-supporting according to paragraph (4)(e), documentation that it will be self-supporting.
(f) Documentation that the water management district within whose boundaries the facility will be located has approved the facility. If the facility crosses jurisdictional boundaries, approval from each applicable district must be documented and provided to the department.
(6) The department and water management districts are authorized to provide technical assistance to local governments or water supply entities for water storage facilities funded pursuant to this section.
(7) The minimum amount of a loan is $75,000. The term of loans made pursuant to this section may not exceed 30 years.
(8) As part of the report required under s. 403.8532, the department shall prepare a report at the end of each fiscal year which details the financial assistance provided under this section, service fees collected, interest earned, and loans outstanding.
(9) The department may conduct an audit of the loan project upon completion, or may require that a separate project audit, prepared by an independent certified public accountant, be submitted.
(10) The department may require reasonable service fees on loans made to local governments or water supply entities to ensure that the program will be operated in perpetuity and to implement the purposes authorized under this section. Service fees may not be less than 2 percent or greater than 4 percent of the loan amount exclusive of the service fee. Service fee revenues shall be deposited into the department’s Grants and Donations Trust Fund. The fee revenues, and interest earnings thereon, shall be used exclusively for the purposes of this section.
(11) The Water Protection and Sustainability Program Trust Fund established under s. 403.891 shall be used for the purposes of this section. Any funds that are not needed for immediate financial assistance shall be invested pursuant to s. 215.49. State funds and investment earnings shall be deposited into the fund. The principal and interest of all loans repaid, and investment earnings thereon, shall be deposited into the fund.
(12)(a) If a local governmental agency defaults under the terms of its loan agreement, the department shall so certify to the Chief Financial Officer, who shall forward the amount delinquent to the department from any unobligated funds due to the local governmental agency under any revenue-sharing or tax-sharing fund established by the state, except as otherwise provided by the State Constitution. Certification of delinquency does not preclude the department from pursuing other remedies available for default on a loan, including accelerating loan repayments, eliminating all or part of the interest rate subsidy on the loan, and court appointment of a receiver to manage the public water system.
(b) If a water storage facility owned by a person other than a local governmental agency defaults under the terms of its loan agreement, the department may take all actions available under law to remedy the default.
(c) The department may impose a penalty for delinquent loan payments in the amount of 6 percent of the amount due, in addition to charging the cost to handle and process the debt. Penalty interest accrues on any amount due and payable beginning on the 30th day following the date that the payment was due.
(13) The department may terminate or rescind a financial assistance agreement if the recipient fails to comply with the terms and conditions of the agreement.
History.s. 4, ch. 2017-10.