Water-Related News

SWFWMD, City of Mulberry to implement new water conservation rules

The new rules will apply to new construction projects

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) successfully collaborated with the City of Mulberry to approve a new conservation ordinance based on Florida Water Star℠ (FWS) standards. FWS is a water conservation certification program for new and existing homes and commercial developments with strict water-efficiency standards for indoor fixtures and appliances, landscape design and irrigation systems. This action allows the city to maximize their permitted water quantities for new development in their area.

The new ordinance mandates water conservation compliance prior to receiving a certificate of occupancy for residential and commercial properties. The ordinance applies to new construction and retrofits of more than 50 percent of an existing irrigation system. To meet ordinance requirements, builders must achieve FWS certification or submit documentation verifying stringent water efficiency requirements have been met. Currently, homebuilders can receive $700 in rebates for each FWS-certified home.

Polk County is facing a challenge of how to meet the water needs of the growing region as the Upper Floridan Aquifer, the traditional source of water, is reaching its withdrawal limit. Other municipalities are considering similar actions to maximize their permitted water quantities, while alternative water supplies are being investigated.

The FWS Program was developed by the St. Johns River Water Management District in 2006 and became a statewide program in 2012. Most recently, FWS became part of the Florida Home Builder Association’s Certified Ratings Program and is now administered by Triconic LLC.

Now you can take your boater safety exam online

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FWC now allows online providers to offer boating safety exam

Access to Florida’s Boater Education Temporary Certificate Program has been expanded, thanks to work done by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to make allowances for online course providers to offer the required courses over the internet.

In August of 2017, the FWC amended Florida Administrative Code 68D-36.108 to allow the temporary certificate exam to be offered in an online version. This change makes it easier and more convenient for both vessel operators and vessel liveries to comply with Florida’s boater education laws, which require liveries to verify that customers born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, have met Florida’s boating safety education requirements before allowing them to rent their vessels.

Online temporary certificate exam providers will create a system that allows 24-hour, seven-day a week accessibility to the exam using tablets, laptops, or other electronic devices. This added convenience will make it easier for both visitors and residents by allowing them to take the test before a vacation to Florida.

Currently, one online boating safety education provider, Boat Ed, has completed the process to offer the exam online. Boat Ed has been a leader and innovator in boating safety education since 1995. Study or learning materials are available on the Boat Ed site to prepare students for the exam, improve their boating knowledge and increase their chances of successfully completing the exam on the first try. The exam costs $3 and study materials are available for an additional charge. A link to the exam can be found at Boat‑Ed.com/FloridaRental/.

Prior to this change, paper exams were the only option and were required to be completed and passed by rental vessel operators. The ability for liveries to continue to offer paper exams has not changed with the addition of this online option. Liveries can still purchase and administer the paper exams, as long as their contract and insurance are valid.

The temporary certificate exam is a knowledge check, not a full education course. It cannot be converted into a boater safety identification card that is valid for life. Temporary certificates are not valid in any other state and do not meet boater safety education requirements in other states.

The online exam will be 25 questions, randomly selected from a large pool of questions. The cost for the exam will remain $3. Upon successful completion of the exam, students will be provided an electronic proof of their successful completion and their passing score. A livery will be able to inspect this proof to ensure that a prospective vessel renter has met Florida’s boating safety education requirements.

The new change offers various benefits to liveries:

  • Liveries are not required to contract with any other company to use the online exam.
  • A link that will send customers directly to the online exam can be provided by liveries.
  • Liveries are not required to continue purchasing paper exams from the FWC.
  • The burden of mailing paper tests back to the FWC is removed with the online option.
  • Liveries will be able to provide speedier service to customers who take the exam in advance of renting.

The FWC encourages liveries to transition to the new online exam system to increase accessibility and streamline the testing process for renters interested in enjoying Florida’s beautiful waterways by boat.

SWFWMD to hold public workshop on ranking water bodies for minimum level/flow rules

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The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) is seeking public input about the order in which minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for lakes, wetlands, rivers, streams and aquifers in the District will be determined. Legislation requires the District to review and, if necessary, revise the schedule each year.

A public workshop will be held from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at the District’s Tampa Service Office, located at 7601 U.S. Highway 301. The workshop will provide an important opportunity for local governments, residents and the public to be part of the scheduling of minimum flows and levels for priority water bodies.

A minimum flow or level is the limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources or environment. The District’s Governing Board sets these limits as part of achieving the balance between meeting water needs and sustaining Florida’s natural systems.

The adopted minimum flows and levels priority list and schedule for 2017 is available on the District’s website here. The draft 2018 list will be published on the site following the Governing Board’s August meeting. The revised schedule will be considered for adoption at the Board’s meeting in October.

Written comments on the draft priority list and schedule may be submitted to Doug Leeper, MFLs Program Lead, at doug.leeper@watermatters.org or to 2379 Broad Street, Brooksville, Florida, 34604 no later than Oct. 6.

For more information, please contact Doug Leeper at 1-800-423-1476, ext. 4272.