All waters of the state fall into one of five surface water classifications (62-302.400 F.A.C.) with specific criteria applicable to each class of water. In addition to its surface water classification, a water may be designated as an Outstanding Florida Water (62-302.700 F.A.C.).
What is an Outstanding Florida Water?
An Outstanding Florida Water (OFW) is a water designated worthy of special protection because of its natural attributes. This special designation is applied to certain waters and is intended to protect existing good water quality.
Most OFWs are areas managed by the state or federal government as parks, including wildlife refuges, preserves, marine sanctuaries, estuarine research reserves, certain waters within state or national forests, scenic and wild rivers, or aquatic preserves. Generally, the waters within these managed areas are OFWs because the managing agency has requested this special protection.
Waters that are not already in a state or federal managed area may be designated as "special water" OFWs if certain requirements are met, including a public process of designation.
For more information, please see:
The OFW Factsheet provides a listing of "special waters" and OFWs, along with more details relating to permitting of activities within an OFW and requirements for a "special water" OFW designation.
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.