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    Planning for the management of waterways and for the protection of working waterfronts have become major policy initiatives in the state of Florida. The Florida legislature has passed important legislation requiring local governments to address these issues in their comprehensive plans, the basic instrument that regulates growth in Florida. Prepared by students and faculty affiliated with the Conservation Clinic at the University of Florida and Florida Sea Grant, this website addresses the legal and policy issues facing Florida waterways and waterfronts and offers a variety of tools for state and local entities to consider in planning for the sustainable management of Florida’s waterways and the preservation of its working waterfronts.

    The information contained on this website was compiled for information purposes by law and graduate students in the Conservation Clinic at the University of Florida Levin College Of Law under the supervision of its faculty. As the law may change quickly, the Conservation Clinic does not warranty the accuracy of any of the information on this website. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice and should not be used as a substitute for consulting a lawyer. This website does not create an attorney/client relationship. Any use of materials on this website is solely at the risk of the user.


    As more users flock to Florida waterways, conflicts have increased. From debates about what constitutes exercise of the rights of navigation to deciding who pays for dredging, many difficult topics confront those charged with managing our waterways. In 2006 the Florida Legislature began addressing some of these issues. The Legislature limited the ability of local governments to regulate non-live-aboard vessels outside of legally-permitted mooring fields. The Legislature also clarified the authority of local governments to deal with derelict vessels.

    Along with increased development in coastal areas and increased boat traffic on Florida’s waterways, user conflicts, management issues, and environmental contamination all need to be addressed. The links at left connect to resources for local governments in dealing with each of these issues. 

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    For the last few years the rapid loss of recreational and working waterfronts that have historically formed part of the culture of many Florida towns and cities on the coast has prompted efforts to protect such waterfronts. In both 2005 and 2006 the Florida Legislature acknowledged this problem and sought to address it. Much of the 2005 and 2006 legislation affects local governments and their comprehensive planning process. The materials presented here can assist local governments to orient themselves to the legislative changes and the legal context.

    Different kinds of waterfronts represent an integral part of both Florida’s past and its future. In parts of the state the historical character of waterfronts is deeply rooted in the commercial fishing industry while other areas have long been involved in maritime commerce. In more recent history, some areas have developed a history of tourism. Each kind of waterfront has its unique appeal, desires for its future, and problems in the present. In addition, waterfronts share some challenges: stormwater impacts on water quality and displacement of historical uses for up-scale residential uses, and the concomitant rise in local property values.

    The resources under the links to the left provide local communities and governments with background and information on the access, preservation of character, and water quality concerns of today’s waterfront communities in Florida.

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    Thomas T. Ankersen
    Legal Skills Professor and Director
    Conservation Clinic
    Center for Governmental Responsibility
    University of Florida Levin College of Law
    P.O. Box 117629
    Gainesville, Fl. 32611-7629
    352-273-0835 (voice)
    352-392-1457 (fax)


    Florida Sea Grant
    University of Florida
    Bldg 803 McCarty Drive
    PO Box 110400
    Gainesville, FL 32611-0400
    (352) 392- 5870

    Waterfronts Florida Partnership Program
    Jennifer Z. Carver, AICP
    Waterfronts Florida Partnerships Coordinator
    2555 Shumard Oak Blvd.
    Tallahassee, FL 32399
    850/922-1772, SC 292-1772
    FAX 850/488-3309, SC 278-3309