Cathy Foerster-Brawley, AICP

Water Supply Planning in Florida

By Cathy Foerster-Brawley, AICP


The Florida Legislature amended chapters 163 and 373, Florida Statutes (F.S.), in 2005, to improve the coordination of land use planning and water supply planning. As a result, local governments are now required to amend their comprehensive plans to meet the water supply planning requirements. This article explains the statutory requirements.


Each local government must update its comprehensive plan to include the following:

·         A policy that enables water supply and facility concurrency

·         A policy that enables coordination of the comprehensive plan with the appropriate water management district’s (WMD’s) regional water supply plan (RWSP)

·         An update of the Conservation Element that identifies current and projected water needs and sources for a minimum 10-year period

·         A financially feasible 5-year Schedule of Capital Improvements (CIS) that includes water supply development components, if needed


Also, Future Land Use Element or Future Land Use Map changes must be supported by data and analyses to demonstrate that adequate water supply and facilities are available to meet the demand associated with the changes.


Finally, if a local government is subject to a WMD’s RWSP, it must adopt a water supply facilities work plan (work plan)-related comprehensive plan amendment (Section 163.3177, F.S.), in addition to the requirements listed above.


The work plan should articulate the local government’s program to implement a combination of traditional and alternative water supply projects, reuse, and water conservation practices and/or projects that are necessary to meet the local government’s future water demands for a 10-year minimum period or the planning horizon of the comprehensive plan, if it is longer. Existing and proposed revisions to comprehensive plan policies should be referenced in the work plan as well as the local government’s financially feasible CIS.


Each WMD must update its RWSP(s) every 5 years; each local government must adopt a new or updated work plan within 18 months of the adoption of the applicable RWSP. For example, local governments within South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) had the below adoption deadlines, depending on which RWSP affected it:


·         January 12, 2008 (Upper East Coast or Lower West Coast planning area)

·         June 14, 2008 (Kissimmee Basin planning area)

·         August 15, 2008 (Lower East Coast planning area)


Each WMD is in the process of updating its RWSP(s). SFWMD anticipates finalizing and adopting the Upper East Coast and Lower West Coast RWSPs in 2011. Upon adoption by SFWMD’s Governing Board, each local government subject to these plans will have 18 months to adopt its next work plan.


About the author:

Cathy is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (ACIP) and one of four certified land planners at St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD). She conducts reviews of local government comprehensive plan amendments and developments of regional impact, focusing on land use planning and water supply planning and reviewing local governments’ water supply facilities work plans for compliance. Before joining SJRWMD in September 2007, Cathy spent 12 years as a private planning consultant in Jacksonville and Gainesville, obtaining her undergraduate degree in Legal Studies from the University of Central Florida in 1993. She may be reached in Palatka at