The Water Quality Standards Program (WQSP) is made up of the Standards Development Section and Aquatic Ecology and Quality Assurance Section (AEQAS). The WQSP is responsible for the development of water quality standards, the Triennial Review of water quality standards, coordination of bioassessment training and implementation, and providing technical support in the Quality Assurance and ecological aspects of water quality science to other department programs.
The Standards Development Section is responsible for reviewing, establishing and revising state water quality standards, as established in Chapters 62-302 (Surface Water Quality Standards), 62-4 (antidegradation policy in Rule 62-4.242), and 62-303 (Impaired Waters Rule), Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.). The components of Florida’s water quality standards include classifications and uses, criteria, the antidegradation policy, moderating provisions, and special protection of certain waters (Outstanding Florida Waters). The section also reviews petitions for waterbody use classification changes via Use Attainability Analyses (UAA) and for Site Specific Alternative Criteria (SSAC). The section provides guidance on the implementation of antidegradation policies in Rule 62-4.242, F.A.C.
The Aquatic Ecology and Quality Assurance Section provides support for experimental study design and field sampling, and assists with the interpretation, statistical analysis, reporting and review of data to ensure compliance with quality assurance objectives. AEQAS staff also provide department-wide oversight on Quality Assurance (QA) issues for the water, waste and resource management programs. DEP’s QA requirements for analytical laboratories and field activities (Standard Operating Procedures) are codified in the QA Rule, Chapter 62-160, F.A.C. The DEP QA Directive outlines procedures and staff responsibilities for the comprehensive implementation of the department’s Quality Assurance Management Plan. Besides the general oversight responsibilities, AEQAS provides technical QA support for programs, conducts field and laboratory audits to determine compliance with the QA Rule, and provides scientific training on a wide variety of topics.
AEQAS staff lead DEP’s efforts to develop, implement and provide QA support for Florida’s biological assessment tools. Biological assessment is an applied scientific discipline that uses the response of resident aquatic biological communities to various stressors as a method of evaluating ecosystem health. The AEQAS also provides training and testing for individuals who wish to perform bioassessments.
For more information, please contact Nia Wellendorf (Program Administrator, Water Quality Standards Program), Kaitlyn Sutton (Environmental Administrator, Standards Development Section) or Sarah Noble (Environmental Administrator, Aquatic Ecology and Quality Assurance Section).
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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is the state’s lead agency for environmental management and stewardship – protecting our air, water and land. The vision of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is to create strong community partnerships, safeguard Florida’s natural resources and enhance its ecosystems.