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Florida Water Plan

Section 373.036, Florida Statutes (F.S.), and Chapter 62-40, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), require the department to develop a Florida Water Plan containing these elements:

The Florida Water Plan is made available below and updated annually. 

Water Resource Implementation Rule, Goals, Objectives and Guidance

Chapter 62-40, F.A.C., known as the “Water Resource Implementation Rule,” provides water resource implementation goals, objectives and guidance for the development and review of programs, rules and plans relating to water resources, based on statutory policies and directives in Chapters 373 and 403, F.S.  

Florida’s five water management districts (WMDs) are responsible for adopting rules consistent with Chapter 62-40, F.A.C. DEP’s Office of Water Policy reviews new and amended WMD rules to ensure that they are consistent with the policies expressed in DEP’s rule. In addition, the department provides guidance to the districts in WMD Guidance Memos.

Water Programs and Activities

Both DEP and the water management districts conduct water resource protection programs and activities that complement each other in four areas of responsibility: Water Supply, Water Quality, Flood Protection and Floodplain Management, and Natural Systems. Each of those is explored below.

Water Supply involves providing sufficient water for both people and the environment. For most Floridians, potable water comes from underground aquifers, and these sources are becoming increasingly limited. DEP has three major water supply programs: 

  • Source and Drinking Water Program – This program regulates public water systems in Florida.
  • State Revolving Fund – This program provides low-interest loans to eligible entities for planning, designing and constructing public water facilities.
  • Water Reuse Program – This program actively promotes the reuse of reclaimed water. Using reclaimed water stretches Florida’s potable water supplies by reusing highly treated wastewater for non-potable purposes, such as landscape irrigation.

The water management districts implement their water supply responsibilities through their water supply planning, water use permitting, and water conservation programs. The districts also provide funding assistance for water supply projects. These projects help create additional water supplies in areas where water resources are limited. Information on alternative water supply (nontraditional water sources) programs can be found in each district’s Consolidated Annual Report, and information on cooperative funding opportunities can be found on most district websites.

Water Quality addresses the suitability of water for a particular use based on selected physical, chemical and biological characteristics. Federal and state guidelines set water quality standards based on the water's intended use, whether it is for recreation, fishing, drinking, navigation, shellfish harvesting or agriculture. Monitoring, improving and maintaining the quality of Florida’s waters is essential to sustaining the quality of life that Floridians enjoy. The department has a number of water quality-related programs: 

  • Water Quality Assessment Program (WQAP) – This program is responsible for administering water quality monitoring strategies through the Watershed Monitoring and Watershed Assessment sections and seven Regional Operation Centers located throughout the state.
  • Water Quality Evaluation and Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) Program (WQETP) – This program is made up of the Watershed Evaluation and the Groundwater Management sections. Collectively, they are responsible for conducting statewide, basin-scale assessments of surface water quality through the development of Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and conducting detailed assessments of groundwater quality. The Groundwater Management Section is also responsible for data management, quality assurance, and assessment of data from the Springs Monitoring Network and special groundwater management monitoring projects.
  • Water Quality Restoration Program (WQRP) – This program includes multiple groups focused on multiple aspects of restoration including: development and adoption of comprehensive restoration plans for impaired waters, called Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs); agricultural pollution prevention; guidance, training, and education pertaining to Florida Friendly Landscapes and stormwater erosion control; and fertilizer ordinance review.
  • Watershed Services Program (WSP) – This program is made up of the WIN/STORET and GIS sections. The program provides data management; support and analyses for the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration (DEAR), DEP, and the public; and manages Watershed Information Network (WIN) database development projects.
  • Stormwater Programs – These programs involve both managing stormwater and regulating activities that alter surface water flows. The programs include NPDES stormwater permitting, municipal separate storm water systems (MS4s), nonpoint source management and environmental resource permitting
  • Wastewater Program – This program regulates the billions of gallons of industrial and domestic wastewater produced in Florida each day that are discharged to surface and ground waters. DEP’s wastewater program is responsible for developing statewide policy and for permitting, compliance and enforcement of both domestic and industrial wastewater treatment facilities and their discharges.
  • Aquifer Protection Program – This program prevents ground water contamination through several regulatory programs including underground injection control, well construction and permitting, wellhead protection, and source water assessment and protection.
  • Water Quality Standards Program (WQSP) – This program is responsible for the development of water quality standards, the Triennial Review of water quality standards, coordination of bioassessment training and implementation, and providing technical support in the quality assurance and ecological aspects of water quality science to other department programs.
  • The Florida DEP Laboratory – DEP's laboratory is made up of the Biology, Chemistry, and Scientific Support Services Programs. The lab provides the department and other government agencies the highest quality environmental analytical services available. The laboratory uses sophisticated, state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation and offers additional services for technical guidance and review, data interpretation, field sampling, and contract management for the department, state water management districts, other state agencies and commissions, as well as local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.

The water management districts also have water quality protection and restoration responsibilities. District water quality monitoring programs involve the collection, interpretation and management of water quality data within their jurisdictions. These data are available to other agencies and the public. District programs that focus on water quality improvement include regulating stormwater runoff from land development, using stormwater treatment areas to remove excess nutrients and other pollutants, implementing various other stormwater improvement projects, restoring habitats that naturally filter water, plugging abandoned wells, and administering well construction programs.

Flood Management involves both flood protection and floodplain management. The water management districts have the primary responsibility for floodplain management, which involves not only preventing damage from flooding, but also preserving and restoring the beneficial values of natural floodplains such as fish and wildlife habitat, nutrient absorption and water storage. Some areas of the state are protected from flooding by WMD-operated control structures such as locks, spillways, pump stations, levees and canals. In other areas, the flood storage capacity of natural floodplains is protected.

Natural Systems Protection involves preserving, protecting and restoring water-dependent natural systems such as lakes, streams, wetlands, marshes, floodplains and estuaries. These systems provide fish and wildlife habitat, natural flood control, water quality improvement, climate moderation, erosion control, recreation and scenic value. DEP’s management activities include land acquisition and restoration; regulation of dredging, filling and other land alterations; and regulation of mining activities, among others. DEP has several natural systems-related programs:  

  • Beaches – This bureau conducts activities affecting Florida’s beach and coastal systems and sovereign submerged lands. Activities include determining shoreline conditions and trends, restoring and managing critically eroded beaches, and safeguarding beach and dune systems from imprudent development.
  • Everglades Restoration – The Office of Ecosystem Projects plays a key role in carrying out the largest environmental restoration project in the world – restoring America’s Everglades. The office implements DEP’s policy, programmatic and regulatory responsibilities under the Everglades Forever Act, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program, and other related efforts.
  • Submerged Lands and Environmental Resources Coordination Program – This program addresses dredging, filling and construction in wetlands. The office also ensures that activities in uplands, wetlands or other surface waters do not degrade water quality or the habitat for wetland-dependent wildlife.
  • Florida Coastal Office – This office manages 41 aquatic preserves and, in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), three National Estuarine Research Reserves and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
  • Mining, Mitigation and Delineation – This program includes coordination of the different entities responsible for dam safety in Florida, including the department, the water management districts, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, local governments and private dam owners. This program is also responsible for the protection of water resources during mining and while reclaiming mined lands.

Complementing these DEP programs, each water management district implements a Minimum Flows and Minimum Water Levels (MFLs) and Reservations Program to ensure that water withdrawals for human use do not adversely affect Florida’s water-dependent natural systems. Districts adopt MFLs for aquifers, lakes, rivers, estuaries, springs and wetlands. They apply MFLs in their water use permitting programs to ensure that withdrawals do not cause significant harm to water resources or the environment.

Water Quality Standards

The department uses water quality standards to measure and protect the conditions and characteristics of Florida’s waters. DEP’s Division of Water Resource Management and Division of Environmental Assessment & Restoration establish the technical basis for setting the state’s water quality standards. These include both surface water quality standards and ground water quality standards.

District Water Management Plans/Strategic Plans

As initially developed, District Water Management Plans (DWMPs) were long-term plans encompassing all programs within a water management district’s four areas of responsibility (water supply, water quality, flood protection and floodplain management, and natural systems protection). Typically, these plans covered a 20-year planning period. In recent years, the water management districts moved to a more operational planning approach by using strategic plans, rather than DWMPs, to manage their programs pursuant to section 373.036(2)(e), F.S. District Strategic Plans cover a shorter time period, typically three to five years, and are directly linked to a water management district’s budget. Because they cover a shorter time period, strategic plans provide more flexibility in responding to changing environmental and economic conditions within a district.

District Performance Measures

In Fiscal Year 2011-12, DEP, along with the five water management districts, developed the first set of performance measures. Included for this Florida Water Plan are the metrics regarding water supply and natural systems. The Water Management District Annual Performance Metrics reported below are for the quarter ending Sept. 30, 2017, for Fiscal Year 2016-17 (October 2016 – September 2017). These performance metrics are presented solely for web publication purposes.

The chart below shows a district-wide percentage of increase in public supply demand from 2010-2030 that has not been met. This is calculated by taking the quantity of public supply demand met by all water projects and dividing it by the 2010-2030 increase in demand (mgd) from the districts’ Regional Water Supply Plans (RWSPs). The purpose of this metric is to estimate how close a district, and in turn, the state is to meeting the 2030 demand projection, and to identify any districts where projected water availability is insufficient so that interventions can begin.

The following chart shows the uniform residential per capita water use (public supply) by district (gallons per capita per day). This is calculated by taking the utility service area finished water used by dwelling units and dividing that by the utility service area residential population. The purpose of this metric is to separate out the residential portion of public supply usage and identify trends.

The chart below shows the number of adopted minimum flows and minimum water levels (MFLs) and reservations by water body type. This does not include restricted allocation areas or other similar area types. The purpose of this metric is to graphically represent each district's current progress on establishing MFLs.

The below chart shows the percentage of water bodies meeting their adopted MFLs. The purpose of this metric is to examine trends showing a district’s progress in meeting their established MFLs.

Last Modified:
February 14, 2019 - 8:28am

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