For many decades Florida has had a narrative nutrient water quality criterion in place to protect Florida’s waters against nutrient over-enrichment. In 2009, the department initiated rulemaking and, by 2011, adopted what would be the first set of statewide numeric nutrient standards for Florida’s waters. By 2015, almost all of the remaining waters in Florida have numeric nutrient standards.
The vast majority of Florida’s freshwater streams, lakes and springs are covered by numeric interpretations of the nutrient criterion, and only wetlands (except for the Everglades Protection Area) and South Florida canals are not covered by numeric nutrient criteria. Non-perennial streams, man-made or physically altered canals/ditches with poor habitat used primarily as water conveyances for flood control, irrigation, etc., and tidal creeks may also be solely covered by the narrative criterion once properly documented as meeting one of the exclusions for the definition of a stream. The Florida coastline is separated into estuary and coastal segments. Numeric nutrient criteria are established for all estuary segments, including criteria for total nitrogen, total phosphorus, and chlorophyll a. For open ocean coastal waters, numeric criteria are established for chlorophyll a that are derived from satellite remote sensing techniques.
The department has developed a web-based geographic tool, NNC Tracker, that the public and environmental professionals can use to view the NNC applicable to waterbodies throughout Florida. NNC Tracker is available from the department’s portfolio of online interactive maps. After selecting the NNC Tracker, the user can click on an interactive map of Florida, select from among a variety of views and data layers, and locate a waterbody or area of interest to view information about the waterbody and the applicable nutrient criteria.
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.