SFWMD Publishes Proposed Rule Applying Reclaimed Water Requirements to Minor Users

On June 8, 2012, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) published in the Florida Administrative Weekly a notice of proposed rule for revisions to Rules 40E-2.091, 40E-20.091, 40E-20.301, and 40E-23, F.A.C., and the SFWMD Basis of Review for water use permits (the “Rule”).  SFWMD previously held a workshop on the new reclaimed water rule on February 21, 2012.

For over five years now, wastewater utilities and local governments have pressed the water management districts on developing policies and rules that require water use applicants to utilize reclaimed water when it is available and feasible.  To this end, many of the water management districts have promulgated policies and rules that require applicants to access whether reclaimed water is available and feasible.  Over the last few years, the water management districts have been refining their rules to specify the precise steps that an applicant must take to demonstrate, and document, that reclaimed water is not available or feasible.  The SFWMD Rule is an example of a rule that is codifying past Policy, and outlining the steps an applicant must take to demonstrate and document their efforts. 

This Rule only applies upon application or permit renewal. The Rule is not limited to reclaimed water facilities that are within the jurisdiction of the SFWMD for projects that are along SFWMD boundaries. However, there may be non-regulatory issues that come into play when such a scenario exists.

Of course, as a threshold matter, for the Rule to apply reclaimed water facilities must be determined to be “available” and have capacity.  The proposed Rule outlines a series of steps that a permit applicant must follow to demonstrate, and actually document, that they have made efforts to determine if and where “reclaimed water is readily available…”. The Rule applies if a permitted user, or applicant, exceeds a 3 MGM threshold, or is located within a “Mandatory Reuse Zone” as defined in Rule 40E-20.301, Conditions of Issuance. Currently, only applicants under 3 MGM are not required to comply.

The proposed Rule also discusses how “technical feasibility” is conducted by the applicant, and includes factors such as whether a reclaimed water distribution water lines are at the applicant’s project boundary…”, as well as the reliability, water quality parameters, operating pressure, and other aspects, when the threshold of reclaimed water availability is crossed.

Should you have any comments or concerns, time is of the essence, as the Rule is scheduled for SFWMD Governing Board adoption at the July 12th, 2012 Meeting.

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