In 2005, the State Legislature enacted the Water Protection and Sustainability Program, requiring the regional water supply planning function of the Water Management Districts to promote alternative water supply projects and enhance the state's water supplies. At the beginning of each fiscal year, revenues were to be distributed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) into the alternative water supply trust fund accounts created by each Water Management District. A total of $100 million was established in recurring funding. The funds were to be used to assist in funding alternative water supply construction costs selected by each Water Management District Governing Board for priority implementation. In 2008, funding from the Water Protection & Sustainability Program Trust Fund was reduced to $7.7 million statewide. Funding was further reduced in 2009 to only $2.2 million. Since 2009, the funding level has been zero.
As Florida continues to experience population growth and increasing demands on the water resources of the state, the efficient and effective utilization of reclaimed water is vital to expanding the water pie and providing for the increased impacts of our growth. Over the past few years, the FDEP, the Water Management Districts, industry groups, and stakeholder groups have engaged in several efforts to improve legislative and regulatory requirements regarding the oversight and funding for alternative water supply projects. Currently, these stakeholders are engaged in the Potable Reuse Commission, which is looking to propose legislative and regulatory language to incorporate more detailed requirements regarding potable reuse into the existing frameworks regarding the traditional utilization of reclaimed water. Additional policy concepts include the clarification of the applicability of impact offset and substitution credits to alternative water supply projects, incentivizing approaches that promote efficiency in the utilization of reclaimed water, and other measures that will allow for the utilization of reclaimed water in the best time, place and manner as suits a given geographic area and local government.
As water and wastewater infrastructure ages, it becomes necessary to repair or replace aged components, as well as to integrate innovative technologies and approaches to provide high quality water and wastewater service. Provision of high quality water and wastewater service provides basic building blocks for economic sustainability and advancement. Municipal and County Governments require assistance from State and Federal sources to tackle these growing challenges.
Palm Beach County SUPPORTS restoring previous alternative water supply, water resource development and reclaimed water/reuse funding through existing mechanisms and the creation of new statewide funding programs to provide substantial and perennial funding to:
• Enhance regional and local water resource and supply capacity development
• Provide adequate and reliable long-term funding for water and wastewater infrastructure
• Provide funding for alternative water supply development
• Provide funding for water quality protection and treatment of impaired waters
• Establish a system for prioritizing water resource projects to ensure that funding is utilized in the most efficient manner available
Palm Beach County SUPPORTS the legislative concepts offered by the FDEP and other stakeholders that will promote the continued effective and efficient implementation of reclaimed water throughout Palm Beach County.