One of the department’s goals is to determine the quality of the state’s surface and ground water resources. This is primarily accomplished through several water quality monitoring strategies that are administered through the Water Quality Assessment Program (WQAP). Responsibilities of the program, include monitoring and assessing how water quality is changing over time, the overall water quality and the impairment status of the state’s water resources, and the effectiveness of water resource management, protection and restoration programs. Water quality monitoring and assessment provided by the WQAP is the cornerstone for the department to achieving its goals.
The WQAP includes three major groups that implement different components. They are the Watershed Monitoring Section, Watershed Assessment Section and the Regional Operation Centers.
The Watershed Monitoring Section (WMS) oversees the monitoring design and assessment of the statewide Status and Trend Monitoring Networks. The Watershed Assessment Section (WAS) develops the monitoring plans and coordinates with monitoring staff to execute the Strategic Monitoring Program with the goal of collecting sufficient data for use in the assessment and determination of impairment based on the methodology in the Impaired Waters Rule (62-303, F.A.C.). Other sections in DEP use the measurements to determine which waters are impaired and what should be done to restore them. The success of these plans is dependent upon accurate and representative data. In support of carrying out the goals of the department’s monitoring and assessment strategies, the WQAP generates several types of documentation and reports including the Integrated 303(d)/305(b) Report, which represents one of the most comprehensive data collection efforts in the nation and provides the reader with substantial information regarding the quality of our waters. The data collected through the program’s water quality monitoring activities are utilized by other DEAR programs such as Springs Monitoring, TMDL, and BMAP, among others.
The Regional Operation Centers (ROCs) perform most of the monitoring for these sections in addition to collecting data utilized by other department and DEAR programs such as the DEP regulatory districts. The information produced from WQAP monitoring activities provides the basis for advising the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), relevant DEP programs, partner agencies, and the Governor and Legislature on the status of Florida’s water quality.
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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.