National Water Rights Digest
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Type of state Riparian primarily, but the law is in flux.
Water supply
In some ways, this state more surrounded by water than any other (save Hawaii and possibly Rhode Island) has some of the knottiest water problems in the nation. The problem is the salt water which surrounds the state, and which it can use but little; the fresh water within the state is in limited supply, and groundwater pumping has continued to stress the available supply.
In the north, the state does make use of a number of rivers (St. Johns and others) passing through it to the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico.
Water use
Controlling law
The Department of Environmental Protection is involved in managing the quality and quantity of water through its relationship with the state's five water management districts (WMD) Northwest Florida WMD, Suwannee River WMD, St. Johns River WMD, South Florida WMD and Southwest Florida WMD, and the adoption and implementation of The Florida Water Policy and The Florida Water Plan. Chapter 373, Florida Statutes, gives the Department "general supervisory authority" over the districts and directs the Department to delegate water resources programs to them where possible.
Pursuant to these delegations, the districts are authorized to administer flood protection programs and to perform technical investigations into water resources. The districts are also authorized to develop water management plans for water shortages in times of drought and to acquire and manage lands for water management purposes under the Save Our Rivers program. Regulatory programs delegated to the districts include programs to manage the consumptive use of water, aquifer recharge, well construction and surface water management.
Water rights
Interstate relations
Florida has been engaged in long-term litigation with Alabama and Georgia over the states' relative shares of river water. In the summer of 1997, settling legislation was being prepared for introduction in Congress.