The Office of Water Policy and Ecosystems Restoration (OWPER) is responsible for implementing the department’s technical, planning and regulatory responsibilities for restoration activities required by the Everglades Forever Act (EFA; Section 373.4592, Florida Statutes (F.S.), the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP; Section 373.1502, F.S.) and the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Plan (NEEPP; 373.4595, F.S.).
As of December 22, 2020, OWPER began processing State 404 (dredge and fill) permit applications for mining projects in state-assumed waters. Please find projects currently on public notice, as required by Rule 62-331.060, F.A.C., at OWPER State 404 Program Public Notices.
The Everglades Forever Act was issued in 1994. The EFA recognizes that the long-term water quality objective for the Everglades is to implement the optimal combination of source controls, stormwater treatment areas (STAs), advanced treatment technologies and regulatory programs to ensure that all waters discharged to the Everglades Protection Area achieve water quality standards consistent with the EFA. The EFA regulates the construction, operation and maintenance of the Everglades Construction Project. The Everglades Construction project is a series of STAs, which are constructed wetlands designed to remove excess nutrients and pollutants from watershed runoff. EFA permits are issued in lieu of all other permits issued under Part IV of Chapters 373, F.S., with the exception of NPDES permits.
The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan Regulation Act (CERPRA) regulates CERP project components unless they are otherwise subject to Section 373.4592 (EFA), Section 373.4595 (Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program) or the department's rules on reuse of reclaimed water. This regulatory act provides for the protection of water quality and the reduction of the loss of fresh water from the Everglades. These features are necessary to meet the other water-related needs of the region, including flood control, the enhancement of water supplies and other objectives served by the project. CERPRA permits are issued in lieu of all other permits issued under Chapters 373 and 403, with the exception of NPDES permits.
In 2007, the Florida Legislature passed the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program, which expanded the Lake Okeechobee Protection Act to include the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and estuaries. NEEPP is intended to protect and restore surface-water resources and to maintain compliance with water-quality standards in these three watersheds and downstream receiving waters. These goals are to be achieved through a phased, comprehensive and innovative protection program set forth in s. 373.4595, which includes long-term solutions based upon the total maximum daily loads established in accordance with s. 403.067. Currently, NEEPP regulates the construction, operation and maintenance of the Lake Okeechobee Watershed Construction Project and structures discharging into or from Lake Okeechobee. NEEPP permits are issued in lieu of all other permits issued under Chapters 373 and 403, with the exception of NPDES permits.
September 23, 2023 - 10:40am
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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.