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Surface Water Quality Standards Classes, Uses, Criteria

Classifications & Designated Uses

 The Clean Water Act requires that the surface waters of each state be classified according to designated uses. Florida has six classes with associated designated uses, which are arranged in order of degree of protection required:

  • Class I - Potable Water Supplies
    Fourteen general areas throughout the state, including impoundments and associated tributaries, certain lakes, rivers or portions of rivers, used as a source of potable water.
  • Class II - Shellfish Propagation or Harvesting
    Generally coastal waters where shellfish harvesting occurs. 
  • Class III - 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 or habitat conditions that, because of those conditions, have limited aquatic life support and habitat that prevent attainment of Class III uses.
  • Class IV - Agricultural Water Supplies
    Generally located in agriculture areas around Lake Okeechobee. 
  • Class V - Navigation, Utility and Industrial Use.
    Currently, there are not any designated Class V bodies of water. 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.


To protect present and future most beneficial uses of the waters, water quality criteria have been established for each classification. While some criteria are intended to protect aquatic life, others are designed to protect human health. The criteria are located in rules 62-302.500 and 62-302.530, F.A.C. Water quality standards also include narrative criteria for pollutants and other conditions not specifically listed.

Site-Specific Criteria

Site-specific criteria replace the statewide default criteria in cases where site-specific information supports different numeric criteria. Examples of site-specific criteria include alternate phosphorus criteria in the Everglades (Rule 62-302.540, Florida Administrative Code) and the Site-Specific Alternative Criteria described in Rule 62-302.800, F.A.C.

Anti-degradation Policy

The anti-degradation policy (found in 62-302.300 and 62-4.242, F.A.C.) allows for protection of water quality above the minimum required for a classification.

For more information please contact Kaitlyn Sutton at 850-245-8819.

Last Modified:
January 16, 2024 - 8:08am

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