It is the policy of the state of Florida: (a) To provide for the management of water and related land resources; (b) To promote the conservation, replenishment, recapture, enhancement, development, and proper utilization of surface and groundwater; (c) To develop and regulate dams, impoundments, reservoirs, and other works and to provide water storage for beneficial purposes; (d) To promote the availability of sufficient water for all existing and future reasonable-beneficial uses and natural systems; (e) To prevent damage from floods, soil erosion, and excessive drainage; (f) To minimize degradation of water resources caused by the discharge of stormwater; (g) To preserve natural resources, fish, and wildlife; (h) To promote recreational development, protect public lands, and assist in maintaining the navigability of rivers and harbors; and (j) Otherwise to promote the health, safety, and general welfare of the people of this state.
Florida waters are managed on a state and regional basis, and the Department of Environmental Protection is responsible for coordinating water resource management activities. Development may be restricted inland of a saltwater barrier line established by the Department off of Florida's coast. The Department is responsible for developing a statewide water management plan in cooperation with water management districts and regional water supply authorities. Governing boards of the state's water management districts are also required to develop district water management plans, to address water supply, water quality, flood protection and floodplain management, and natural systems. Additional water use restrictions (section 373.0363) apply to the Central Florida Coordination Area, which includes Polk, Osceola, Orange, and Seminole Counties, and southern Lake County, as designated by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, the South Florida Water Management District, and the St. Johns River Water Management District. The Act contains additional information on the establishment of minimum water flows and levels, the cooperation of state agencies and water management districts, water management districts and basin boards, and required permits and permitting procedures for water use.
The boundaries of water management districts in Florida coincide with the boundaries of environmental districts, although multiple environmental districts may be established within one water management district. Environmental districts have the authority to issue permits, certificates, licenses, and exemptions, and may set rules for activities within their jurisdictions. Water management districts may also be designated as “water control” districts, as described in section 298 of the Florida Statutes. Such districts have additional oversight powers pertaining to land development and construction in their jurisdiction.