Notice of Biennial Assessment Outreach Public Meetings
(February 18, 2021)
The Watershed Assessment Section will hold public meetings to present updates on the implementation of a streamlined approach to assessing water quality statewide on a biennial (two-year) assessment cycle. These meetings will provide stakeholders with an overview of the statewide biennial assessment process, schedule for publishing draft basin assessments lists and supporting documentation for the development of impaired waters lists. Draft basin assessment lists will not be presented at these meetings.
Under the previous process, the department operates on a five-year cycle, assessing roughly 20 percent of the state's waters each year. The new biennial assessment approach will provide Floridians with a more up-to-date picture of Florida's overall water quality conditions. Stakeholders across the state will have current, actionable information that will promote more effective and timely water quality restoration.
Meeting materials are available online. Also available is additional information on the biennial assessment here, including a Process Document and Frequently Asked Questions. The department will hold subsequent public workshops during summer 2021 to present and receive feedback on the draft statewide assessments. The final basin assessments developed through the biennial assessment will be submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency pursuant to Section 303(d) of the federal Clean Water Act and shall serve to update the previously approved Section 303(d) list of Florida waters.
Please note, the first meeting scheduled for February 25th will be held using GoToWebinar. The second meeting scheduled for March 4th will be held using Microsoft Teams.
Date: March 4th Time: 2:00 PM EST Webinar Link: Click here to join the meeting Or call in (audio only): 1-850-629-7330 Phone Conference ID: 144 040 143#
Availability of the 2021 Strategic Monitoring Plans
(December 4, 2020)
The department announces the availability of the 2021 Strategic Monitoring Plans here. These plans represent the water quality and biological monitoring needs identified by the department in preparation for basin assessments as part of the watershed management approach. The Watershed Assessment Section developed the 2021 Strategic Monitoring Plans to assist in assessing the health of Florida's surface waters by conducting biological assessments and water quality sampling. These activities are carried out by seven Regional Operation Centers (ROCs) located throughout the department's six District offices and by staff in Tallahassee. The extensive monitoring effort is accomplished through coordination with local stakeholders, water management districts, city, and county governments.
Final Lists of Assessments in the Group 2 Basins including the Verified List of Impaired Waters, Delist List, Study List, and Study List Removals
(May 4, 2020)
The department announces the availability of the FINAL lists of assessments for waterbodies and water segments within the Group 2 Basins: Apalachicola - Chipola River, Charlotte Harbor, Lower St. Johns, Middle St. Johns, St. Lucie - Loxahatchee River, and Tampa Bay Tributaries. These FINAL Verified Lists, Delist Lists, Study Lists, and Study List Removals were produced with water quality and biological data included in the IWR Run 58 database. These final Verified and Delist Lists were adopted by Secretarial Order signed by DEP Secretary Valenstein on April 30, 2020. This Order also includes amendments to the Verified List for one waterbody in the Group 3 Upper St. Johns basin, two waterbodies in the Group 5 Indian River Lagoon basin, and finalizes the assessment determination for two waterbodies in the Group 1 Ochlockonee St. Marks basin that are available here.
FINAL Lists of Assessments in the Group 1 Basins including the Verified List of Impaired Waters, Delist List, Study List, and Study List Removals
(October 4, 2019)
The department announces the availability of the FINAL lists of assessments for waterbodies and water segments within the Group 1 Basins: Everglades West Coast, Lake Okeechobee, Ocklawaha, Ochlockonee - St. Marks, Suwannee, and Tampa Bay. These FINAL Verified Lists, Delist Lists, Study Lists, and Study List Removals were produced with water quality and biological data included in the IWR Run 56 database. These final Verified and Delist Lists were adopted by Secretarial Order signed by DEP Secretary Valenstein on October 2, 2019. This Order also includes an amendment to one waterbody in the Group 3 Choctawhatchee-St. Andrews basin and is available here. In addition to the final assessment lists, the department posted the Master Lists (which contains all assessments for all waterbodies in each basin) available here.
Approval of the Mosquito Lagoon Reasonable Assurance Plan
(September 24, 2019)
The department announces amendments to the Verified List of Impaired Waters for three waters in the Group 5 Indian River Lagoon basin due to the approval of the Mosquito Lagoon Reasonable Assurance Plan (RAP). These amendments were adopted by a Secretarial Order signed by DEP Secretary Valenstein on September 17, 2019. These assessment changes are removing three waters from the Verified List of Impaired Waters and a list of those waters can be obtained here. The Mosquito Lagoon RAP is the product of a locally driven stakeholder initiative that establishes the restoration activities and projects that will address nutrient impairments in Mosquito Lagoon. The Mosquito Lagoon RAP document is available here.
Amendments to the Verified List of Impaired Waters
A list of waterbodies addressed through off-cycle amendments is available here.
Submitting Bioassessment Data
The department is requesting external data providers who would like to submit applicable bioassessment data to help support the department's Impaired Waters assessment. Please download and complete the Bioassessment Data Template, available as a Microsoft Excel worksheet (.xlsx). Once the template has been completed with the required information, please submit the worksheet and any supporting documentation (field sheets, photos, etc.) by email to Kevin O'Donnell.
Entities submitting data to DEP must meet the applicable bioassessment proficiency demonstrations set forth here, follow the department's Quality Assurance requirements for field activities as codified in Chapter 62-160, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), and the incorporated DEP Standard Operating Procedures. For external bioassessment data to be considered as part of the assessment, data providers must be in the applicable Active status for LVI, BioRecon, SCI and/or Habitat Assessment certification at the time of sample collection. While the online RPS and LVS tests are not required, because there are currently no certifications for these methods, taking the online tests are highly recommended to show proficiency.
Guidance on Developing Restoration Plans as Alternatives to TMDLs
The department encourages stakeholders (including state agencies and local governments) to seek4b assessments or4e assessmentsby submitting documentation in support of assessment category 4b or 4e. For this designation, documentation will be required to demonstrate reasonable progress that the proposed projects or programs will restore an impaired waterbody.
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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.