Minimum flows and levels are limits established by the District Governing Board for surface waters and groundwater that are intended to prevent significant harm to the water resources or ecology of an area that may be caused by water withdrawals. Proposed minimum flows for the Pithlachascotee River are summarized in a draft report and appendices.
In accordance with Section 373.0421(4), Florida Statutes, the District voluntarily subjected all scientific or technical data, methodologies, models, and scientific and technical assumptions used to support development of the proposed minimum flows to independent scientific peer review. The Pithlachascotee River’s review was conducted by a panel of three independent, recognized experts in the fields of hydrology, hydrogeology, limnology, biology and other scientific disciplines relevant to the development of the minimum flows. The panel prepared a final report for the District Governing Board and the Board gives significant weight to the report when establishing minimum flows for the Pithlachascotee River.
Meetings conducted by the peer review panel occurred October and November 2016. They included an initial, in-person meeting, which included a field trip to sites on the river as well as web-based teleconferences facilitated from the District’s Brooksville office. Details about the peer review panel’s work is accessible through the Web Forum.
Staff has been meeting with elected officials, local governments and other stakeholders to communicate the recommended minimum flows and to solicit feedback. District staff will provide an overview of the recommended minimum flows for the Pithlachascotee River System for review and comment during the Feb. 15, 2018 public workshop. Details about the public workshop are available on the District’s online calendar.
The District strives to implement a transparent process to determine the proposed minimum flow for this system. During the March 2018 District Governing Board meeting, the Peer Review Report, District response to the review and a request to initiate rulemaking for the minimum flows will be presented to the Board for approval. Subsequent to Governing Board approval, staff will initiate rulemaking for the minimum flows. The tentative schedule is outlined below.
• June 2014 – March 2018: Stakeholder outreach and meetings
• Feb. 15, 2018: Public workshop
• March 27, 2018: District Governing Board meeting – agenda item and request to approve staff recommendation
• April–July 2018: Rulemaking (includes, among other things, public notices, 21-day public comment period, legislative committee review, public hearing, if any, and rule filing — visit Online Sunshine’s rulemaking process for details)