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Who is Responsible for Permitting Wells in Florida?

A recent case involving a housing development, subject to a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) issued in 1977 by the Department of Community Affairs (DCA), determined which authority in Florida may restrict and permit installation of consumptive wells.  Several property owners had applied for permits from the Northwest Florida Water Management District (WMD) to extract non-potable water for irrigation purposes.  Since the 1977 DRI prohibited the installation of wells, DCA issued Notices of Violation (NOVs) to the property owners claiming that the proposed wells violated the DRI and that DCA’s approval for the proposed wells had not been obtained.

The court concluded that WMDs have “exclusive authority” to permit the consumptive use of water in Florida.  Therefore, the DCA has no authority in the permitting process of wells, and the installation of wells does not require approval through the DRI process.

Conclusion: Permitting by Water Management Districts is all that is required to obtain approval for consumptive use of water in Florida.

Case name: Northwest Florida Water Management District v. Department of Community Affairs, et al., Case No. 1D08-4993, 1st District Court of Appeal, Opinion, March 10, 2009.

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