The real water policy of the Legislature, for more than a decade, has been to make it harder to protect and manage Florida’s water resources. They haven’t adopted straightforward “Cut Back on Effective Water Management” Acts. That would attract public notice and opposition. Instead, they have tied down and made very difficult all attempts to implement Florida water law. There are many paths to obstructionism:
For example, a time-consuming and almost-always useless requirement for “Statements of Estimated Regulatory Costs” has been imposed on all significant rulemaking processes. Even with a”SERC,” a meaningful rule cannot go into effect unless it is later ratified(!) individually by the legislature. That same Legislature has also lengthened the default duration of water use permits and made it more difficult to modify an existing permit. The scientific definition of wetlands used in permitting was deliberately made political because it cannot be changed without legislative ratification.
Random members of the Legislature who happen to sit on the Legislative Budget Commission get to overrule water management district budgets. Executive directors of water management districts must be selected not only by a majority of a WMD governing board but also approved by the Governor and then confirmed by the Florida Senate. (What kind of creative person could survive all of those gauntlets?)
This policy of obstruction is not as noticeable as recent mandated budget cuts. It is, however, just as effective in blocking efforts to carry out the water sustainability purposes of the Florida Water Resources Act of 1972.