Most wastewater permitting is conducted in the Department of Environmental Protection's (department's) six district offices and delegated local programs. This webpage contains general information about wastewater permitting in Florida as well as provides many useful links. If you have any questions related to a specific permitting issue or particular project, please contact the appropriate district office or delegated local program.
Please note, the department is authorized to delegate some regulatory powers (permitting, compliance, and enforcement involving certain collection/transmission, treatment, reuse and disposal facilities) to local "delegated authorities" or, as the department refers to them, "local programs." Discharges to surface waters, however, are not delegated to local programs.
Who Must Obtain a Department Permit
According to Part I of Chapter 403 of the Florida Statutes, unless exempted by rule or statue, any facility or activity which discharges wastes into waters of the state or which will reasonably be expected to be a source of water pollution must obtain a permit from the department. Generally, persons who intend to collect, transmit, treat, dispose or reuse wastewater are required to obtain a wastewater permit. A wastewater permit issued by this department is required for both operation and certain construction activities associated with domestic or industrial wastewater facilities or activities.
A department permit must also be obtained prior to construction of a domestic wastewater collection/transmission system. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) regulates on-site treatment and disposal systems (septic systems), portable restrooms, septic tank contractors and septage haulers. Please note that while residuals (biosolids) and septage are both essentially the solids generated from wastewater treatment, residuals originate from a domestic wastewater treatment facility regulated by the department, whereas, septage originates from a septic system regulated by DOH.
The National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program is a federal program established by the Clean Water Act (CWA) to control point source and stormwater discharges. Under Section 402 of the CWA, any discharge of a pollutant from a point source to surface waters (i.e., the navigable waters of the United States or beyond) must obtain an NPDES permit. The NPDES permit requires compliance with both technology-based as well as surface water quality standards (e.g., Water Quality Based Effluent Limitations or WQBELs).
Therefore, wastewater facilities that discharge to surface waters are subject to the NPDES program requirements. In 1995, the department received authorization from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to administer the NPDES wastewater program in Florida. Since that time, federal NPDES permit requirements for most wastewater facilities or activities (domestic or industrial) that discharge to surface waters are incorporated into a state-issued permit, thus giving the permittee one set of permitting requirements rather than one for state and one for federal. Please note that many NPDES facilities have other effluent options or beneficial reclaimed water usages. Permit requirements for these other options or usages are incorporated into their wastewater permit along with the NPDES requirements.
For purposes of permitting, wastewater facilities or activities are categorized as either industrial or domestic based on the type of wastewater the facility handles. Domestic wastewater is wastewater from dwellings, business buildings, institutions and the like, commonly referred to as sanitary wastewater or sewage. Domestic wastewater facilities include domestic wastewater sewers, pipelines, conduits, pumping stations and force mains that transmit wastewater to the plant; the wastewater treatment plant; or residuals or septage management facilities.
All wastewater that is not defined as domestic wastewater is considered industrial wastewater. Sources of industrial wastewater include large and small facilities and activities such as manufacturing, commercial businesses, mining, agricultural production and processing, and wastewater discharge from cleanup of petroleum and chemical-contaminated sites.
Most wastewater facilities or activities are required to obtain an individual permit that includes permit requirements and conditions tailored to the specific wastewater treatment and disposal systems regulated in the permit. Individual permits allow a permittee to both construct and operate the wastewater treatment facility. Department-issued wastewater permits generally contain requirements for, depending on the type of facility and disposal means, the treatment of the wastewater, disposal to surface water (NPDES), discharge to ground water, the land-application of reclaimed water, the beneficial use of reclaimed water (e.g., landscape irrigation), influent and effluent monitoring and reporting, and in the case of domestic wastewater facilities, industrial pretreatment and domestic residuals management. Self-monitoring reports called monthly Discharge Monitoring Reports (DMRs) are routinely submitted to the department by the permittee.
The department also issues generic permits for regulating categories of wastewater facilities or activities that involve the same or similar types of operations or wastes. Generic permits are "permits by rule," which means that all facilities or activities regulated under a specific category of generic permit have similar permit requirements and conditions. Use of a generic permit is subject to department review and approval and may involve discharge to surface water or ground water. Monthly DMRs, as with individual permits, are typically required for facilities or activities regulated by generic permits. Currently, facilities or activities that may qualify for a generic permit include discharges from concrete batch plants, dewatering activities, discharges from petroleum-contaminated sites, discharges from fresh citrus fruit packing houses to percolation ponds, domestic wastewater facilities that discharge to slow rate/restricted access land application systems, and small domestic wastewater facilities that discharge to rapid-rate infiltration basin and absorption field systems. To use a generic permit, an applicant submits a notice of intent to the department.
The department also issues general permits for certain types of facilities or activities that have minimal adverse environmental impact when performed in accordance with specific requirements and practices. General permits (like generic permits) are "permits by rule," and facilities regulated by a specific type of general permit have the same requirements and conditions. Monthly DMRs are not required for general permits. General permits cannot be issued for discharges to surface water. Examples of facilities or activities that may qualify for a general permit include domestic wastewater collection/transmission systems, sand and limestone mines, car wash systems, tomato and fresh citrus wash water, and laundromats. As with the generic permits, to use a general permit, an applicant submits a notice of intent to the department.
Applications and Notices of Intent
Applications for wastewater permits and, in the case of generic and general permits, notices of intents must be submitted to the department’s appropriate permitting office, except steam electric power plants discharging to surface waters. These applications are submitted to the Industrial Wastewater Section in Tallahassee. The permitting office reviews the application or notice and, based on this review, may request additional information from the applicant. Once the application has been deemed complete and no more additional information is required, the department then can act on the application or notice by issuing or denying the permit.
The application form for an individual permit for a wastewater treatment plant or reuse or disposal system (new, renewal or substantial modification) is Form 62-620.910(1) [AKA Form 1]. Other forms may be needed depending on the type of activities involved. Applications for minor permit revisions are made on Form 62-620.910(9). The application form for domestic wastewater collection/transmission systems is Form 62-604.300(8)(a).
To access any permit application under department review visit the department's permitting website.
Wastewater permits are generally issued by one of the department’s six district offices and delegated local programs, except steam electric power plants discharging to surface waters as discussed above. For more information on a specific permit, please contact the appropriate permitting office or delegated local program based on the physical location of the permitted facility or activity.
Underground Injection Well Permits
Permits for underground injection wells are issued by the department’s Underground Injection Control (UIC) Program. Facilities that dispose of effluent from a wastewater treatment plant via an underground injection well must apply for a separate UIC permit using Form 62-528.900(1).
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.