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Florida DEP Continues Restoration Of Rivers, Lakes, Estuaries

June 2, 2009


~Complex effort shows commitment to the environment through science~

TALLAHASSEE — Florida has marked another milestone in its comprehensive strategy to address waterbody restorations around the state. Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Secretary Michael W. Sole has signed three orders identifying waterbodies for water quality improvement goals. The waters identified for restoration include waters in the Group 5, Group 1, and Group 2 basins. Florida’s 52 major basins have been divided into five groups of basins and a five year rotating basin approach is used to monitor and assess waters, to develop and adopt Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for those waters that do not meet their water quality standards, and to develop Basin Management Action Plans, where appropriate, to serve as the blueprint for restoring the impaired waters.

The Group 5 lists of impaired waters originally were adopted on December 12, 2007 as part of the first rotating basin cycle. These lists are being revised to add waters found to be impaired based on additional data and water quality assessments. The Group 5 waters identified for restoration are in the Perdido, Upper East Coast, Indian River Lagoon, Springs Coast, Everglades, and Florida Keys basins. DEP has performed a total of 4045 parameter assessments covering 576 water bodies in these basins. Of the 4045 assessments approximately 18% of those assessments are verified as impaired for nutrients, 24% of those are impaired for bacteria, and 4% are impaired for metals.

The Group 1 waters identified for restoration are in the St. Marks/Ochlockonee River Basins, the Suwannee/Santa Fe River Basins, the Ocklawaha River Basin, Tampa Bay, Lake Okeechobee and its Northeast Tributaries, and the Everglades West Coast Basin. These lists of impaired waters originally were adopted on June 3, 2008 but have been revised to add impaired waters for which additional data and assessment work were completed. These lists represent the impairment status of 1,767 water bodies assessed during the second five-year rotation. For these 1,767 water bodies more than 10,000 parameter assessments were performed and approximately 24% of these are verified as impaired for nutrients, 35% for bacteria, and 4% are impaired for metals.

The Group 2 waters also have been assessed during the second cycle of the rotating basin approach. The waters identified for restoration are in the Apalachicola-Chipola, Lower St. Johns, Middle St. Johns, St. Lucie-Loxahatchee, Tampa Bay Tributaries, and Charlotte Harbor basins. Within these basins a total of 1,662 waterbodies were assessed encompassing 12,388 separate parameter assessments. From the 12,388 assessments performed 35% of them were determined to be impaired for nutrients, 34% impaired for bacteria, and approximately 2% for metals.

“Due to the diligent work of our scientists and staff, in cooperation with local watershed stakeholders, we have completed our next round of detailed assessments to identify impaired waterways,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. “This complex effort underscores the state’s commitment to the environment through science and will be the foundation for restoration, water quality improvements and healthier natural resources.”

Under the federal Clean Water Act, each state in the nation must identify impaired rivers, lakes and estuaries for clean-up. Science-based pollution limits, called Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs), are then developed for each impaired waterway. A TMDL is the maximum amount of a specific pollutant a waterbody can absorb and still meet its designated uses, such as fishing, swimming, shellfish harvesting or as a source of drinking water. In 1999, Florida adopted a nationally-recognized program to govern TMDL development and implementation.

As the next step, DEP will work with federal and local governments, water management districts, public and private utilities, industry, agriculture and environmental groups to develop, adopt and implement one or more Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs).

Blueprints for restoration, BMAPs lay out the actions to be taken to reduce pollutant loadings and restore a water body. The plans may include activities that will promote improved farming practices and land use planning, and increase wastewater and stormwater treatment to reduce pollution. Development of a detailed BMAP will be initiated by mid-2009 to solidify a plan to implement these target limits.

The Verified Lists of Impaired Waters for the Group 5 Cycle 1, Group 1 Cycle 2, and the Group 2 Cycle 2 basins can be found at:

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