Page Banner

Site-Specific TMDL Prioritization

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) grant policy requires work plans for state categorical program grants. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) previously agreed to a work plan associated with the Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 106 grant to the State of Florida for federal fiscal year 2015 (FY15). As part of that work plan, DEP agreed to provide EPA a priority framework document which addresses how our 303(d) and total maximum daily load (TMDL) programs will implement the new long term vision for CWA Section 303(d). In summary, the long term vision:
 
  • Provides a framework for greater efficiency & success in achieving WQ
  • Removes the “one size fits all” expectations
  • Ensures accountability through new measures (areas addressed by TMDLs & recognition of TMDL alternatives)
  • Initially implemented in FFY16 (Oct. 2015) Framework Document

The department intends to focus its efforts and prioritize waters with verified impairments, where TMDLs are necessary or desirable, in order to achieve a reasonable workload. One important part of the TMDL priority setting effort is a focus on waters where the TMDL/BMAP approach is the best of the available options for restoration. The department's resultant list of priorities are therefore best interpreted as "those impaired waters where the department expects to develop a site-specific TMDL."
 
Calling these waters "priorities" comes from the language contained in the EPA 303(d) long term vision and associated guidance. It does not mean that the waters on the list are the only department priorities for restoration. Other impaired waters may be the subject of alternative restoration activities such as a statewide TMDL project (for example, the statewide TMDL for mercury  or reducing pathogens). In addition, some waters may be good candidates for a TMDL alternative, such as a reasonable assurance plan or water quality restoration plan ("4b plan" and "4e plan"). Other waters may have improving water quality trends or additional source identification information, suggesting naturally high levels of the given pollutant. Therefore, waters labeled a priority by this exercise, are simply those that are favorable for site-specific TMDL development.
 
This process is intended to select those impaired waters where site-specific TMDLs are appropriate and are the most likely solution for successful restoration. The priority setting process is time consuming, and while annual and two-year plans will need to be developed, the department does not intend to re-prioritize every year. Instead, two check-in periods will allow time to incorporate future IWR database runs and assessment lists, to re-prioritize the workload, and to complete TMDLs on the priority list (see Table 2).
 
State Fiscal Year (SFY)
Federal Fiscal Year (FFY)
Calendar Quarter
Comments

SFY 15-16

FFY15

July to Sept 2015

Establish Plan

SFY 15-16

FFY16

Oct to Dec 2015

Beginning of Plan

SFY 16-17

FFY16

July to Sept 2016

Annual Planning

SFY 17-18

FFY17

July to Sept 2017

Annual Planning

SFY 18-19

FFY18

July to Setp 2018

Annual Planning

SFY 18-20

FFY19

Oct to Mar 2019

Check-in Period 1
(re-prioritize)

SFY 19-20

FFY19

July to Sept 2019

Annual Planning

SFY 20-21

FFY20

July to Sept 2020

Annual Planning

SFY 21-22

FFY21

July to Sept 2021

Annual Planning

SFY 21-23

FFY22

Apr to Jun 2022

Check-in Period 2
(re-prioritize)

SFY 22-23

FFY23

Oct to Dec 2022

New Plan Begins

 
Flexibility is built in two scheduled "check-in" periods during which future public comments, new sampling data, new database runs, and new verified impairments can be incorporated. In the first check-in period, the department was able to catch up on TMDLs left on the list and re-prioritize the second half of the overall plan. The update aligned with Governor Ron DeSantis signed Executive Order 19-12 (Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment), implementing major reforms to ensure the protection of Florida’s environment and water quality.  Since the prioritization had already included the Lake Okeechobee watershed, DEP is able to focus its efforts in the Kissimmee River HUC, Fisheating Creek HUC and Taylor Creek HUC in the 2nd half of the plan.  Additional details can be found on the story map below (dated May 2019) or you can download the updated priority list.
 

Please help us improve our service by providing feedback on what you think of our updated site-specific TMDL prioritization. Contact Erin Rasnake at Erin.Rasnake@dep.state.fl.us or 850-245-8338.

Share:          
Last Modified:
July 1, 2019 - 4:29pm

Some content on this site is saved in an alternative format. The following icons link to free Reader/Viewer software:
PDF: | Word: | Excel: