The core function of the Watershed Assessment Section is to use the best available information to identify waterbodies and water segments (WBIDs) that are not meeting the applicable water quality standards and designated uses based on the Impaired Waters Rule Chapters 62-303 and 62-302, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.).
How often are WBIDs assessed?
DEP’s watershed management approach has historically been following an established five-year cycle that rotates through 29 basins throughout the state over a five-year period (all WBIDs will be assessed once every five years). The department is changing its approach for assessing waters under the Impaired Waters Rule (Chapter 62-303, Florida Administrative Code). Under the new process, all of the basins in Florida will be assessed every two years rather than over the current five-year basin cycle. Assessments will have the same data assessment period and evaluated with the applicable water quality criteria. The department will complete the assessment analysis using all available water quality data throughout Florida and will publish an updated statewide impaired waters list every two years. For more detailed information on the biennial assessment and implementation schedule, please see the Process Document and Frequently Asked Questions.
What are the designated uses addressed during the assessment?
The designated uses that are addressed during the assessment process can be classified in one of the categories below. The classification of a waterbody according to a particular designated use or uses does not preclude use of the water for other purposes. Water quality standards classifications are arranged in order of the degree of protection required, with Class I having generally the most stringent water quality criteria and Class V the least.
Potable Water Supplies
Includes 14 areas throughout the state that are used as a source of potable water.
Shellfish Propagation or Harvesting
Generally coastal waters where shellfish harvesting propagation occurs.
Fish Consumption; Recreation, Propagation and Maintenance of a Healthy, Well-Balanced Population of Fish and Wildlife
The surface waters of the state are Class III unless described in Rule 62-302.400, F.A.C.
Class III Limited
Fish Consumption; Recreation or Limited Recreation; and/or Propagation and Maintenance of a Limited Population of Fish and Wildlife
This classification is restricted to waters with human-induced physical conditions that, because of those conditions, have limited aquatic life support and habitat that prevent attainment of Class III status.
Agricultural Water Supplies
Generally located in agricultural areas around Lake Okeechobee.
Navigation, Utility and Industrial Use
Currently, there are no waterbodies designated as Class V waters. The Fenholloway River was reclassified as Class III in 1998.
*For a more detailed description of classes and specific waterbody designations, see 62-302.400, F.A.C.
What are the assessment categories and what do they mean?
Assessment Category Definitions
Attains all designated uses.
Attains some designated uses and insufficient or no information or data are present to determine if remaining uses are attained.
Attains one or more designated uses and a Reasonable Assurance Plan has already been completed.
Attains one or more designated uses and an alternative restoration plan has already been completed.
Attains one or more designated uses and a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) has already been completed.
No data and information are present to determine if any designated use is attained.
Some data and information are present but not enough to determine if any designated use is attained.
Enough data and information are present to determine that one or more designated uses may not be attained according to the Planning List methodology.
Impaired for one or more designated uses but does not require TMDL development because a TMDL has already been completed.
Impaired for one or more designated uses but does not require TMDL development because the water will attain water quality standards due to existing or proposed measures.
Impaired for one or more criteria or designated uses but does not require TMDL development because impairment is not caused by a pollutant.
Waterbody indicates non-attainment of water quality standards, but the Department does not have enough information to determine a causative pollutant; or current data show a potentially adverse trend in nutrients or nutrient response variables; or there are exceedances of stream nutrient thresholds, but the Department does not have enough information to fully assess non-attainment of the stream nutrient standard.
Waterbody indicates non-attainment of water quality standards and pollution control mechanisms or restoration activities are in progress or planned to address non-attainment of water quality standards, but the Department does not have enough information to fully evaluate whether proposed pollution mechanisms will result in attainment of water quality standards.
Water quality standards are not attained and a TMDL is required.
What is the Impaired Waters assessment/303(d) listing process?
Evaluate Previous cycle's Planning, Study, and Verified Lists
Development and Implement Annual Strategic Monitoring Plans
Conduct IWR Evaluation
Produce Draft Master List (includes Verified, Delist, Study List, and Study List Removals)
Hold Public Meeting(s) and Request Public Comments
Develop Final Master List (includes Final Verified, Delist, Study List, and Study List Removals)
Secretarial Adoption of Verified and Delist lists
21-day challenge period
Submit 303(d) List updates to EPA IV
What is the TMDL Tracker?
The TMDL Tracker is a web-based application that is designed to share important information regarding assessments, TMDL documents and permit/facility locations.
The department requests that external data providers who would like to submit applicable bioassessment data in support of the Impaired Waters assessment to please download and complete the Biology Template available as a Microsoft Excel worksheet (.xlsx) on our website (Biology Template). Once the template has been completed, please submit the worksheet and supporting documentation (all field sheets, the program’s Quality Assurance Plan, photos, associated water quality results for the date of sampling, and the general sampling routine, etc.) by email to Kevin O'Donnell.
How can I provide feedback?
DEP is always interested in hearing feedback from its stakeholders. Comments and questions can be submitted to the Watershed Assessment Section by contacting Kevin O'Donnell at 850-245-8469 or via email.
How can I receive updates on public meetings, listing actions, new IWR Runs databases, WBIDs and stations?
To receive notifications on upcoming public meetings and the department's activities related to the development and implementation of Clean Water Act section 303(d) list and watershed assessments, please enter your email address at our subscriber page.
September 2, 2021 - 8:34am
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