It is a strategy developed and implemented to address water quality issues. It can postpone and/or potentially prevent a waterbody from being on the Verified List of Impaired Waters.
Are there different types of Alternative Restoration Plans? Yes. There are two types of alternative restoration plans:
Reasonable Assurance Plans
Assessment category 4b (Reasonable Assurance)
Not placed on the federal CWA 303(d) list
Pollutant Reduction Plans
Assessment category 4e (Ongoing Restoration Activities)
Included on federal CWA 303(d) list
Bacteria Pollution Control Plans via MS4 permit
What parameters can be included in an Alternative Restoration Plan?
Parameters included in alternative (4b/4e) restoration plans can be implemented for any water quality standard parameter. Restoration plans can be developed to address individual pollutants or several; however, each parameter will be independently assessed for progress towards attainment.
For fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) impairments, Escherichia coli or enterococci are not applicable parameters to include in a 4b plan because the management actions to reduce FIB do not currently have quantifiable reductions; therefore, reasonable assurance cannot be documented. However, it is possible to include FIB parameters in a 4e approach.
Does my waterbody need to be impaired to pursue an Alternative Restoration Plan?
Yes, alternative restoration plans are a mechanism put in place specifically for impaired waterbodies (i.e. waterbodies that are not meeting their applicable water quality standards) to help get them on a faster path to restoration. Waterbodies are eligible if they meet the listing requirements for the state’s Verified List of impaired waters or the Study List.
How can I find out if my waterbody is impaired?
There are a couple of locations to look, when trying to determine if the waterbody you are interested in is impaired (not meeting standards).
The map is easily navigable and after the waterbody is located, it can be clicked on to display additional impairment information.
How do I know if an Alternative Restoration Plan is right for my waterbody?
An alternative restoration plan could be a good option if one or more apply:
There are existing or proposed water quality restoration projects or activities in/around the waterbody to help address the impairment.
Stakeholders want to avoid a TMDL and expedite water quality restoration.
There is an active/engaged stakeholder group that can help lead the development of the plan.
Stakeholders have monetary and technical resources to dedicate to projects to fulfill a restoration plan.
Stakeholders have resources for evaluating progress of the plan.
What is the benefit of pursuing an Alternative Restoration Plan?
The plans provide a faster path to restoration. Locally developed pathways to water quality improvements provide the best opportunity for stakeholders to plan for efficient, proactive, and effective management of water quality activities, having more control over the recovery of the impaired waterbody. The department’s role in these stakeholder-led plans is one of technical guidance, facilitation, support, and feedback.
How do I get started with an Alternative Restoration Plan?
The best time to propose or submit a restoration plan is as soon as possible during the impaired waterbodies assessment cycle and/or, well in advance of TMDL development. Local stakeholders can gather necessary documentation to demonstrate that existing or proposed pollution control mechanisms will restore a waterbody within their jurisdiction.
When does an Alternative Restoration Plan document need to be submitted to consider my waterbody for category 4b or 4e?
Each year the Department prepares an updated impaired waters list that covers one-fifth of the basins in the state. As such, over a five-year period the Department updates its basin assessments for the entire state. To provide the Department with enough time to review restoration plan documentation, prior to the next assessment cycle for that particular basin, local stakeholders should engage the Department at the earliest possible time.
What are the requirements of an Alternative Restoration Plan?
The basic requirements include:
A description of the impaired waterbody and the water quality or aquatic ecological goals.
The water quality–based targets or aquatic ecological goals (both interim and final) that have been established for the pollutant(s) of concern.
A description of proposed management actions to be undertaken.
A schedule for restoration projects, including funding sources.
A description of procedures for monitoring and reporting results.
A description of/and commitment of stakeholders to proposed corrective actions.
Are there funding opportunities associated with my Alternative Restoration Plan?
Yes. DEP’s Nonpoint Source Management Program administers federal and state grant funding for projects that reduce pollution from nonpoint sources, particularly to address impaired waterbodies and meet restoration goals related to TMDLs and restoration plans.
State funding through the State Water-quality Assistance Grant (SWAG) is intended for “shovel ready” capital improvement construction projects treating waters not attaining standards (i.e., impaired). This funding is available for 4b and 4e plans.
Federal funding through section 319(h) of the Clean Water Act goes towards projects and activities necessary to implement adopted Reasonable Assurance Plans (RA Plans, 4b plans).
Examples of fundable projects or programs include, but are not limited to:
Demonstration and evaluation of best management practices (BMPs), see website here:
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.