(1) As used in this section, the term “navigable waters of the United States” means the waters of the United States, including the territorial seas, as referenced in the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. ss. 1251 et seq., and the federal rules and regulations promulgated thereunder.
(2) The commission may establish by rule protection zones that restrict the speed and operation of vessels to protect and prevent harm to springs. This harm includes negative impacts to water quality, water quantity, hydrology, wetlands, and aquatic and wetland-dependent species.
(3) When developing a protection zone, the commission shall do so in consultation and coordination with the water management district, the Department of Environmental Protection, and the governing bodies of the county and municipality, if applicable, in which the zone is located. If the zone includes navigable waters of the United States, the commission shall additionally coordinate with the United States Coast Guard and the United States Army Corps of Engineers.
(4) Any individual who operates a vessel in violation of a spring protection zone rule adopted pursuant to this section shall be charged on a uniform boating citation as provided in s. 327.74 and is subject to the penalties provided in s. 327.73(1)(y) .
(5) Restrictions in a protection zone do not apply:
(a) To law enforcement, firefighting, or rescue personnel operating a vessel in the course of performing their official duties; or
(b) In emergency situations. However, the emergency operation of a vessel must be a reasonable response given the circumstances.
(6) The commission is responsible for the posting and maintenance of regulatory markers identifying protection zones.
(7) The commission may adopt rules to implement this section.
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