TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – On Aug. 26, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will kick off a series of five meetings around the state to take public input on the department’s water quality assessment determinations and restoration priorities. The meetings will be held in Stuart, Fort Myers, Temple Terrace, Daytona Beach and Tallahassee respectively.
A complete list of workshop dates and locations can be found here.
At the public meetings, department staff will explain the results of basin-specific assessments for waters in the Apalachicola-Chipola River, Lower St. Johns River, Middle St. Johns River, Tampa Bay Tributaries, St. Lucie-Loxahatchee River and Charlotte Harbor basins. The department will share information used in developing the preliminary Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) work plans, and will present the process for prioritizing local watersheds for site-specific TMDL development within each basin.
“The department is focused on improving the water quality of Florida’s waters,” said Tom Frick, director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “We are continuing to work with local stakeholders to identify waters that do not achieve standards and develop restoration goals. These meetings provide an opportunity for stakeholders to contribute local perspective and priorities to better inform our watershed work plans.”
Each year, the department performs water quality assessments for one-fifth of the state through a rotating watershed basin management approach. Through this approach, the department manages water resources within their natural boundaries or basins. The state’s 52 major hydrologic basins are divided into five groups, allowing the department to assess all 52 basins across the state over the course of a five-year cycle, one group per year. The assessments are used to identify waters that do not meet Florida’s water-quality standards and are in need of restoration. Those waters that are identified as “impaired” are then prioritized for development of a restoration goal known as a TMDL, or total maximum daily load. The TMDL identifies the maximum amount of a specific pollutant that may be present in a given water body for it to remain healthy and functional. Based on the restoration goal, the department, in conjunction with local stakeholders, develops and implements a restoration plan to re-establish the water body’s health.