Florida League of Cities

Water Quality Enhancement Areas/Environmental Management (Watch) – PASSED 

CS/CS/HB 965 (Truenow) provides for the construction, operation, maintenance and long-term management of off-site, regional, compensatory water treatment areas called “water quality enhancement areas.” These areas will be used to offset impacts to water quality caused by increases in nutrient loading from development projects. Under the bill, water quality enhancement credits could be purchased from a water quality enhancement area to offset such development impacts. An “enhancement credit” is defined in the bill as a standard unit of measure that represents a quantity of pollutant removed. The bill specifies that water quality enhancement areas must be regulated through permits issued by the Department of Environmental Regulation. While the bill allows governmental entities to use water quality enhancement areas to address their water quality needs, the bill specifies that governmental entities may not act as sponsors to construct, operate, manage, maintain or market enhancement credits to third parties. In addition, the bill provides that local governments may not require a permit or impose regulations governing the operation of an enhancement area. A water quality enhancement area permit applicant must provide reasonable assurances that an enhancement area will achieve defined performance criteria, benefit water quality and assure long-term pollutant reduction. The bill specifies requirements for an enhancement area and requires that such areas correspond to the appropriate basin management action plan boundary. The bill specifies requirements for the generation of enhancement credits and provides that a local government may not deny the use of credits due to the location of the enhancement area being outside the jurisdiction of the local government. Lastly, the bill specifies that whether a dwelling is owner-occupied is not an eligibility criterion for a developer or homebuilder to receive density or intensity bonuses for implementing graywater technologies. CS/CS/HB 965 passed the House (107-0) and the Senate (39-0) and is awaiting action by the Governor. (O’Hara)