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February 13, 1996

1 Consideration of a Request for Review filed by Pinellas County of an Order issued by the Southwest Florida Water Management District denying Pinellas County's Petition to Initiate Rulemaking. (FLWAC Case No. RFR 95-001)

On December 15, 1994, Pinellas County filed a petition with the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) proposing the District adopt, by rule, by July 1, 1995, a schedule for establishing minimum water flows and minimum water levels for the surface water bodies and aquifers within its jurisdiction. The SWFWMD's governing board met on March 22, 1995, and adopted staff's recommendation and entered an order denying Pinellas County's petition. The SWFWMD's order states that the required flows have been established for many surface waters within the district, some aquifer levels have been proposed, and aquifer levels for the remainder of the district have been regulated by a permit-by-permit establishment of drawdown levels.

Pinellas County filed a Request for Review of the SWFWMD’s order denying Pinellas County’s petition on April 11, 1995. The petition alleges that the SWFWMD is required by Section 373.042, F.S., to provide minimum water flows and water levels for all surface watercourses in the area. On April 21, 1995, Pinellas County was notified by the Commission of the determination of sufficiency of its Request for Review.

On May 3, 1995, the SWFWMD filed a “Statement in Opposition to Pinellas County’s Request for Review and Motion to Dismiss or Abate” requesting the Commission stay this Request for Review proceeding. This motion was based on several administrative challenges which the District believed were directly related to the Request for Review. The Commission directed the parties to submit memorandums of law on the issue of whether these Chapter 120, F.S., proceedings were dispositive of the issues raised in the Request for Review.

Pursuant to the Commission’s Order dated December 22, 1995, Pinellas County submitted its initial brief on the merits on December 29, 1995, and the SWFWMD submitted its answer brief on January 16, 1996. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) provided a recommendation on January 19, 1996.

Section 373.042, F.S., requires that within each section, or the water management district as a whole, the department or the governing board shall establish minimum flows for all surface watercourses in the area and minimum water levels (the level of ground water in an aquifer and the level of surface water at which further withdrawals would be significantly harmful to the water resources of the area). Additionally, section 373.0395, F.S., provides for the development of a ground water basin resource availability inventory covering those areas deemed appropriate by the governing board and providing for specific information requirements. Also related to this issue, section 373.0391, F.S., directs water management districts to assist local governments in the development and future revision of local government comprehensive plan elements or public facilities report as required by section 189.415, F.S., related to water resource issues and provides for specific information and data requirements.

Pursuant to provisions of Chapter 42-2, F.A.C., and Section 373.114, F.S., the Commission may accept the request for review if four members determine on the basis of the record below that the activity authorized by the water management district would substantially affect natural resources of statewide or regional significance. Additionally, the Commission may accept review if four members determine that the action of the water management district raises issues of policy, statutory interpretation, or rule interpretation that have regional or statewide significance from the standpoint of agency precedent.


Authorize the Secretary of the Commission to enter the Draft Final Order.


Pinellas County’s Request for Review received April 11, 1995.

FLWAC’s letter regarding sufficiency dated April 21, 1995.

FLWAC’s order dated May 2, 1995.

SWFWMD’s “Statement in Opposition to Pinellas County’s Request for Review and Motion to Dismiss or Abate” received on May 3, 1995.

SWFWMD’s memorandum of law regarding stay of proceedings received on May 22, 1995.

DEP’s recommendation on staying the proceeding received on May 23, 1995.

Pinellas County’s memorandum of law in opposition to the SWFWMD’s motion to dismiss or abate received on May 23, 1995.

Pinellas County’s “Motion for Entry of an Order Denying District’s Motion to Dismiss or Abate” received on September 28, 1995.

FLWAC’s order dated December 22, 1995.

Pinellas County’s initial brief received on December 29, 1995.

SWFWMD’s answer brief received on January 16, 1996.

DEP’s recommendation to the Commission received on January 19, 1996.

Draft Final Order.