Permitting News You Can Use

January 2021, Issue 18

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Online tool helps make pre-application meetings successful and productive

Pre-application discussions are encouraged to facilitate collaboration between applicants/landowners, consultants and District staff. Projects with unique site conditions, significant areas of wetlands, the presence of threatened and/or endangered species, or sensitive receiving water bodies are some examples of projects that could benefit from pre-application meetings.

Pre-application exchange tool imageWith the unprecedented number of permit applications in 2020 and continuing into 2021, consultants and District staff are very busy and everyone’s time is at a premium. Understandably, active permit applications have a high priority for District staff, but this does not diminish the value of a well-planned and informative pre-application meeting.

To help applicants, consultants and regulatory staff glean the most information from a pre-application meeting, District staff created a helpful Pre-Application Information Exchange Tool.

This tool provides guidance regarding the type and scope of information needed and serves as a helpful starting point and a basis for pre-application discussions on projects.

To take advantage of a pre-application meeting, please download and populate the tool with your project information. We understand that when you request a pre-application meeting, you might not yet be able to provide all the information covered in the form. We simply ask that you complete as much of the form as possible and submit a copy of the form along with any supporting documents at least three business days (if possible) ahead of the pre-application meeting. This will allow the staff time to review the information provided in the tool, highlight areas of concern for discussion and prepare an agenda for the pre-application meeting. It is our goal that a successful pre-application meeting ensures a more efficient application review and timely permit issuance.

Understanding permit revocation for nonuse of water

As part of its ongoing management of water resources, the St. Johns River Water Management District may revoke a Consumptive Use Permit (CUP).

A water supply facility in St. Johns County.

A water supply facility in St. Johns County.

Chapter 373.243(4), Florida Statutes, states, in part, “For nonuse of the water supply allowed by the permit for a period of two years or more, the governing board or the department may revoke the permit permanently and in whole unless the user can prove that his or her nonuse was due to extreme hardship caused by factors beyond the user’s control…”

District Consumptive Use Permitting staff have been approaching permittees and actively requesting voluntary rescission of permits where there has been no use for two or more years. Permit rescissions effectively resets the amount of available water. Having accurate data on water use and availability is key to making sound resource decisions in Consumptive Use Permitting allocations.

Please note that the statute makes allowances for nonuse due to extreme hardship. An example of an extreme hardship would be nonuse of allocated water for citrus permits where greening has killed the trees. Whether voluntarily rescinding your CUP or if your permit has been revoked for nonuse, you may still apply for a CUP in the future. If the permit is rescinded or revoked, the well or pump must be secured to prevent use until there is a need for water use and a new permit is obtained.

If you have any questions regarding Consumptive Use Permit rescission, please contact Kelly Vermillion at kvermillion@sjrwmd.com or 321-473-1351.

Process ensures regulatory conservation easement releases or amendments are handled appropriately

The release or amendment of a regulatory conservation easement involves a process by which the District releases or modifies its proprietary interest over a property that was previously encumbered in association with an Environmental Resource Permit (ERP), in most cases for mitigation or protection of wetland resources.

Depending on the circumstances surrounding the proposed release or amendment, the Executive Director or the Governing Board has the authority to act on such a release or amendment request. The request to release, partially release or amend a regulatory conservation easement normally must be accompanied by an appropriate exchange for the release or amendment. Such an exchange can be an appropriate on-site or off-site addition to a regulatory conservation easement area, purchase of mitigation bank credits or donation of an approved mitigation parcel. The District requires a number of supporting documents in order to review, process and act on requests to release, partially release or amend a regulatory conservation easement. These documents are listed below, and include legal descriptions and survey sketches of the proposed release and exchange areas, written request from the verified property owner, a copy of the original conservation easement, supporting maps, and in some cases sufficient justification for the request as well as an alternatives analysis.

  • Legal description/survey sketch of the release or partial release area (if proposed)
  • The original entire CE documents with all referenced exhibits (sketch and legal) and OR book and page
  • Written request from property owner (or entity with real property Interest)
  • Current ownership documentation for release areas (must match signature of written request, no encumbrance report needed)
  • Electronic copy (.DWG or shapefile) of recorded CE, if not mapped in our database
  • Electronic copy of partial release files from surveyor (.DWG or shapefiles)
  • Additional recorded CEs (including sketch and legal) if located within the permitted project boundary
  • Alternatives analysis from requestor
  • UMAM/ratio analysis for release parcel and replacement parcel or bank/ROMA credits (as applicable)
  • Documentation of Corps correspondence
  • Surveyor must include a reference in the legal description to the boundaries of the recorded conservation easement from which the CE is being released or amended. (Consulting survey firm should provide statement affirming consistency.)

For requests that must go before the District’s Governing Board, a complete set of supporting documents must be submitted to the District well in advance of the scheduled Governing Board meeting. The time frames shown on the schedule below allow District regulatory and legal staff sufficient time to review the documents, request corrections or additions, route to senior management for review and schedule (agenda) the request with a recommendation for Governing Board action at the next available meeting date.

2021
Governing Board Meeting Month Final Complete Request Package due to SJRWMD Reviewer Governing Board Meeting
January Wednesday, November 4, 2020 Tuesday, January 12, 2021
February Wednesday, December 2, 2020 Tuesday, February 9, 2021
March Wednesday, December 30, 2020 Tuesday, March 9, 2021
April Wednesday, February 3, 2021 Tuesday, April 13, 2021
May Wednesday, March 3, 2021 Tuesday, May 11, 2021
June Wednesday, March 31, 2021 Tuesday, June 8, 2021
July Wednesday, May 5, 2021 Tuesday, July 13, 2021
August Wednesday, June 2, 2021 Tuesday, August 10, 2021
September Wednesday, June 30, 2021 Tuesday, September 7, 2021
October Wednesday, August 4, 2021 Tuesday, October 12, 2021
November Wednesday, September 1, 2021 Tuesday, November 9, 2021
December Wednesday, October 6, 2021 Tuesday, December 14, 2021

As always, early coordination with District staff is imperative to ensure receipt of a complete and accurate set of documents by the deadline indicated above and to minimize unnecessary delays to your project. Questions regarding the release of regulatory conservation easements should be directed to the District staff member reviewing your application or release/amendment request.

Permitting tips

Expediting the permitting process for replacement wells

Wells fail, and when they do, drilling a replacement well may become an urgent situation. A pre-application discussion with district regulatory staff will help expedite the consumptive use permit (CUP) permitting process for the well replacement. A pre-application meeting provides an opportunity to let regulatory staff know that an expedited request is being submitted and to discuss the information needed to obtain the permit modification for the replacement well. The pre-application meeting and letter requesting a permit modification may be completed by the well owner or their agent (consultant, water well contractor, etc.), as long as an authorized agent letter is provided along with the letter modification request. If you need assistance, agricultural entities should contact Ag Assistance Team member David McInnes at 386-227-0126 and all other CUP well types should call your nearest service center and ask to speak with a CUP hydrologist.

What is the Mitigation Bank Search Tool?

If you’d like to learn more about mitigation banks permitted by the St. Johns River Water Management District, the district’s website contains a Mitigation Bank Search Tool that allows you to view information about mitigation banks. The webpage includes a mapping interface with various data layers, a frequently asked questions page, a link to the file which contains the permit, technical staff report, final approved plans, a detailed credit ledger, the type and availability of credit, the mitigation bank service area, the basin the mitigation bank is located in, contact information for each mitigation bank and much more.

For any questions or suggestions about the Mitigation Bank Search Tool or the Mitigation Banking Program, please contact Reid Hilliard, Technical Program Coordinator, at the district’s Maitland Service Center, 601 South Lake Destiny Road, Suite 200, Maitland, FL 32751; 407-659-4873 or jhilliard@sjrwmd.com.

What is the Annual Statement of Continuing Use Form?

Consumptive use permittees are required to maintain records of water quantity usage on a monthly basis for the life of the permit and provide those records to the district when requested. However, a consumptive use permit (CUP) holder whose total combined allocation is equal to or less than 100,000 gallons per day, on average, has a simplified way to confirm that they still use water in accordance with their permit. This is done by submitting the Annual Statement of Continuing Use form in lieu of submitting the EN-50 Water Use/Pumpage Report form.

The form includes the following questions:

  • Do you still own, lease or control the property on which the permitted withdrawal point(s) is located?
  • Did you use water for the purposes identified in the authorization statement (of the permit) during the past calendar year?

The Annual Statement of Continuing Use form is due by Jan. 31 each year and is located at the following link: www.sjrwmd.com/permitting/formsCUP/Form_40C-2-900-6.pdf

For assistance in submitting your Annual Statement of Continuing Use form via the e-Permitting portal, call 386-329-4570 or send an email to epermit@sjrwmd.com.