(1) Exemptions to Provide for the Experimental Use of Wetlands for Low-Energy Water and Wastewater Recycling.
(a) To encourage experiments which are designed to lead to the development of new information regarding low-energy approaches to the advanced treatment of domestic, agricultural, and industrial wastes and to encourage the conservation of wetlands and fresh waters, the Secretary shall, upon petition of an affected person, and after public notice in the Florida Administrative Weekly and in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the waters affected, and after opportunity for public hearing pursuant to Chapter 120, F.S., issue an Order, for a period not to exceed five (5) years, specifically exempting certain sources of pollution which discharge into restricted areas of wetlands, as approved by the Secretary, from the water quality criteria contained in Rule 62-302.560, F.A.C., provided that:
1. the discharger affirmatively demonstrates that the wetlands ecosystem may reasonably be expected to assimilate the waste discharge without significant adverse impact on the biological community within the receiving waters;
2. granting the exemption is in the public interest and will not adversely affect public health or the cost of public health or other related programs;
3. the public is restricted from access to the waters under consideration;
4. the waters are not used for recreation;
5. the applicant affirmatively demonstrates that presently specified criteria are unnecessary for the protection of potable water supplies or human health;
6. the exemption will not interfere with the designated use of contiguous waters; and,
7. scientifically valid experimental controls are provided by the applicant and approved by the Department to monitor the long-term ecological effects and waste recycling efficiency.
(b) The Petitioner shall affirmatively demonstrate those standards which the Petitioner believes more appropriate apply to the waters for which the exemption is sought.
(c) The Secretary shall specify, by Order, only those criteria which the Secretary determines to have been demonstrated by the preponderance of competent substantial evidence to be more appropriate.
(d) The Department shall modify the Petitioner's permit consistent with the Secretary's Order.
(2) Exemption Providing Alternative Criteria for Existing Permitted Discharges Comprising the Principal Flow.
(a) The Secretary shall, upon the petition of one or more existing wastewater discharge sources for which a Department permit has been issued prior to the effective date of this rule, after public notice in the Florida Administrative Weekly and in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of the waters affected, and after opportunity for public hearing pursuant to Chapter 120, F.S., issue an Order for the duration of the petitioner's permit exempting waters of the state which are not used for potable water supplies, or recreation, and contain no significant population of fish and wildlife, from one or more Class III or Class IV criteria specified in the petition and substituting appropriate alternative criteria where the discharge of the Petitioner(s) comprised a majority of the flow, excluding runoff from storm drains and other wastewater discharges, during a substantial portion of the year preceding the effective date of this rule. Provided, however, that such Order shall be issued only after an affirmative demonstration by the Petitioner(s) of the following:
1. The waters for which exemption is sought are:
a. wholly artificial and not a modified or channelized natural stream; or,
b. intermittent watercourses which, in the absence of runoff from storm drains and wastewater discharges, acts as tributaries only following the occurrence of rainfall and which normally do not contain contiguous areas of standing water; or,
c. are channelized or modified natural watercourses which were historically intermittent as described in b. above.
2. The waters are not used for potable water supplies, or recreation, and do not contain a significant population of fish or wildlife.
3. Reasonable assurance has been provided that the alternative criteria will adequately protect the designated uses of adjacent downstream waters;
4. The alternative criteria are not less stringent than the minimum standards prescribed for all waters at all times in Chapter 62-3, F.A.C.;
5. The alternative criteria are in the public interest and there is no reasonable relationship between the economic, social, and environmental costs of compliance with existing criteria and the economic, social and environmental benefits of compliance;
6. Compliance with the alternative criteria will adequately protect present and future potable water supplies and human health;
7. Compliance with the alternative criteria will adequately protect the population of animals, plants, or aquatic life then utilizing the waters;
8. The waters are not lakes or ponds; and,
9. Achievement of Class III standards would provide no reasonable exception of future recreational use of the waters.
(b) The Secretary shall specify by Order the alternative criteria, if any, which the Secretary determines to have been demonstrated by the preponderance of the competent substantial evidence to be more appropriate than the Class III or Class IV criteria specified in the petition.
(c) The Department shall modify the Petitioner's permit consistent with the Secretary's Order.
(3) Exemption for Existing Effluent Ditches.
(a) The Secretary or a Deputy Assistant Secretary shall, upon the petition of a wastewater discharger for whom a Department permit has been issued prior to the effective date of this rule, and after public notice and opportunity for public hearing, issue an Order for the duration of the petitioner's permit exempting waters of the state in an effluent ditch from all water quality criteria except those specified in Rule 62-3.051, F.A.C. In order to qualify for this exemption, the petitioner shall affirmatively demonstrate that:
1. the ditch is a wholly artificial man-made conveyance that was constructed as a part of the wastewater treatment process;
2. he ditch contains flowing water only when there is a discharge or immediately after rainfall;
3. the petitioner has legal control of the ditch and abutting land sufficient to restrict public access;
4. migration of indigenous aquatic organisms into the ditch will be prevented; and
5. the ditch is not used for recreation and contains no significant population of fish or wildlife. "Significant population of fish or wildlife" shall mean the presence of commercially or recreationally important species or significant quantities of organisms which provide food for such species.
(b) The Department shall modify the Petitioner's permit, consistent with the Secretary's or Deputy Assistant Secretary's Order.
Specific Authority 403.051, 403.061, 403.087, 403.088, F.S. Law Implemented 403.021, 403.051, 403.061, 403.062, 403.085, 403.086, 403.087, 403.088, F.S. History - New 11-27-89, Amended 1-2-91, 4-22-93, Formerly 17-660.300.