January 2023, Volume 25, Issue 1

Thank you to our Newsletter Sponsors!

 Table of Contents

FSA Education Update
Lee Mullon, PE, CFM, DWRE, PMP, Drummond Carpenter, Education Committee Chair

Lee Mullon, PE, CFM, DWRE, PMP

With the goal of being Florida’s No. 1 resource for stormwater matters, FSA’s many educational programs continue to provide critical knowledge transfer to professionals statewide. In September, we hosted a fully in-person Fall Seminar for the first time since 2019 and recorded the Seminar’s live presentations for attendees to access on-demand year-round for continuous learning.

The Fogarty Training Center provided more than 20 Level 1 and Level 2 Stormwater Operator training sessions last year, from Fort Lauderdale to Tallahassee, including online classes to meet demand. FSA continues to invest in the Training Center to make the training experience engaging and relevant for Operators in today’s environment. Last year, the Education Committee began a review and update of the Stormwater Operator Level 2 Training Manual. For more information about upcoming trainings in your area or online, visit the Operator Certification Level 1, Operator Certification Level 2, and Operator Re-Certification pages.

Looking ahead, 2023 will be an important year for the Education Committee. With rulemaking expected at the national level (revised definition of the “Waters of the United States”) and state level (Clean Waterways Act Stormwater Rulemaking) that may significantly impact how stormwater is managed, the Education Committee will evaluate how our educational offerings can help clarify and disseminate regulatory changes.

Make sure to join our webinars, which are provided free to members. On March 9, 2023, our webinar will discuss Adaptive Nutrient Source Identification Programs and on May 11, 2023 we will hold our 2023 Florida Legislative Session Overview. Register today for the March 9th webinar.

Best wishes to all our FSA members.

FSA Celebrates 30 Years!

This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the formation of the Florida Association of Stormwater Utilities (FASU), now known as the Florida Stormwater Association (FSA). Much has happened since 1993 in Florida’s stormwater programs - and also in the Association! The original nine charter members have grown to over 320 organizational members representing more than 4,400 individuals. FSA’s services have grown to provide stormwater-focused educational programs, Florida-focused training and certifications for stormwater operators, robust communication and information sharing, active involvement in the state legislative process, representation for stormwater programs in state and federal courts, and key research initiatives. Thank you for your support!

Please join us as we Celebrate 30 years of Leadership in Stormwater Management at our 2023 Annual Conference. We will be returning to the Sanibel Harbour Marriott on June 14-16, 2023. Registration will open in March, so mark your calendar now – you don’t want to miss Florida’s premier stormwater conference.

Stormwater Legislation – Stay Informed

The 2023 Legislative Session begins March 5, 2023.  Be sure to visit FSA’s Legislative Page each day during Session for a current list of Priority Issues, Bill Tracking Reports, current news articles and information on individual bills. This resource is available for FSA members only; you will need your username and password to login.

Governor’s Executive Order for Environmental Funding

Governor DeSantis signed an executive order on January 10, 2023 calling on FDEP and Water Management Districts to prioritize red tide, blue-green algae, and Everglades restoration.  Lawmakers were urged to commit $3.5 billion toward water projects over the next four years. The announcement mirrors a similar pledge to protect Florida's natural resources that the governor made four years ago when he requested $2.5 billion in funding from the Legislature. Lawmakers ended up appropriating $3.3 billion, with Everglades restoration projects receiving $1.7 billion over the last four years alone.

Special Legislative Session

During the week of December 12, 2022, the Florida Legislature convened a Special Legislative Session for three days, in conjunction with the first Interim Committee Week for the upcoming Regular Legislative Session. The special session was convened, in part, to address relief for impacts from recent hurricanes.

Senate Bill 4A was passed with bipartisan support to provide funding for disaster relief for Floridians and communities recovering and rebuilding in the wake of the 2022 Hurricane Season. In addition to impacted homeowner relief, SB 4A appropriates funding through FDEP for beaches and essential water infrastructure impacted by Hurricanes Ian and Nicole and creates the Florida Emergency Management Assistance Foundation. The special session also passed bills related to statewide toll savings and the homeowner insurance marketplace.

FSA met with several lawmakers and new leadership during the first Interim Committee Week and will continue to meet, monitor and engage on legislative priorities through the remaining schedule in 2023.

Statewide Stormwater Design Criteria Rulemaking Update

SB 712 (2020 Session) required FDEP and the Water Management Districts (WMDs) to initiate rulemaking to update the statewide stormwater design criteria program by January 1, 2021. A 2007 report provided to FDEP determined that the existing criteria were (in most cases) not adequate to attain the goal of 80% reduction in pollutant loadings that would cause or contribute to violations of state water quality criteria nor the goal of a 95% reduction in pollutant loadings when discharging to Outstanding Florida Waters.

FDEP conducted four workshops from May 18, 2022 to November 3, 2022. The workshops focused on proposed changes to ERP Applicant’s Handbook, Volume I. Recordings of all workshops and draft rule language can be found on FDEP’s Clean Waterways Act webpage. FSA’s detailed comments on the rulemaking can be found on FSA’s Advocacy Page.

Thank you to our many members who contributed to FSA’s comments in time for FDEP’s requested December 30, 2022 deadline. Members are encouraged to monitor this process and provide any further comments to the proposed rule updates to [email protected].

Final Rule Defines WOTUS

The EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers finalized a new definition of Waters of the United States (WOTUS), publishing the final rule in the Federal Register on January 18, 2023. This starts the 60-day clock to challenge the rule in federal court and will make it effective March 20, 2023. The final rule is generally based on the pre-2015 definitions and appears to be a middle ground between the 2015 “Clean Water Rule” and the 2020 “Navigable Waters Protection Rule.” The 2015 Clean Water Rule (CWR) sought to clarify what was a jurisdictional water, although it did so by significantly expanding the WOTUS definition. That rule was repealed in 2019 and then replaced in 2020 by the Navigable Waters Protection Rule (NWPR), which significantly narrowed the definition. Federal courts stayed implementation of the 2020 rule and once that occurred EPA went back to enforcing the CWA based on the pre-2015 definitions.

While the new rule seems to have a narrower application than that of the 2015 regulations, it does contain language for “significant nexus” and “relatively permanent” tests, which will be subject to interpretation by regulators. Waterbodies that meet either test will be jurisdictional and subject to EPA and Corps permitting requirements.

Nonetheless, the final rule has several clarifications and improvements for local governments required to obtain Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits. Specifically excluded from the definition of WOTUS (in large part continued from the 2020 NWPR) are certain:

  • Waste treatment systems, including ponds designed to meet CWA requirements
  • Ditches excavated in and draining dry land
  • Artificial lakes or ponds
  • Waterfilled depressions
  • Swales and erosion control features with low volume and infrequent or short duration flow

The new definition comes in advance of the Supreme Court ruling for Sackett v. EPA, which asks the Supreme Court to clarify when a wetland is subject to federal jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. The Court heard oral arguments on October 3, 2022, and we expect a decision from the Court in early 2023.

FSA will continue to monitor WOTUS impacts on stormwater programs and keep members informed.

EPA Directs Florida to Improve Water Quality Standards

In a December 1, 2022 letter, EPA informed FDEP that new and improved water quality standards are necessary to satisfy requirements in the Clean Water Act. Specifically, new and improved Human Health Criteria (HHC) are needed due to existing HHC not protecting the State’s designated uses. Included in the determination was that additional HHC are needed for certain priority toxic pollutants for which Florida currently lacks. The HHC for surface waters were last updated in Florida in 1992. FDEP has issued a response that they are evaluating next steps to strengthen protections for Florida’s waters.

Infrastructure Federal Funding Opportunities

In November 2021, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) was signed. BIL allocates $50 billion to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to improve the nation’s drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure. This money will be distributed over five years between 2022 and 2026. Florida was allotted five additional funding sources under BIL. View FDEP’s two-page fact sheet here.

Funding will be distributed over the next five years through the FDEP’s Division of Water Restoration Assistance (DWRA) State Revolving Fund (SRF) programs. This program has two primary distribution mechanisms: the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF). The CWSRF is the primary avenue for stormwater projects and Florida’s Year One BIL funding is slated to receive $60.5 million with an additional $3.1 million allocated to projects related to Clean Water Emerging Contaminants. The BIL will also allocate funds for elements of stormwater management integrated into transportation projects. For timelines, details about each funding source, and funding request forms, visit FDEP’s BIL and SRF information page here.

Want to Learn More?

Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Webinar – February 9, 2023 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. EST
Learn how Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) funding can help your communities improve your water and wastewater infrastructure. The webinar will discuss how state revolving fund (SRF) program funds work, the experiences of state programs and community recipients, what resources are available (current and upcoming) for information and technical assistance, and where to go for more information and to stay in the loop. Register Today!

Blue-Green Algae Task Force to Meet

FDEP’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force will meet on February 1, 2023 from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. EST.  The meeting will be held online and in-person at FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus in North Miami Beach.  The Task Force will convene to receive an update on the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act and the recent amendment, the South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act of 2021. The task force will receive an overview of Executive Order 23-06, Achieving Even More Now for Florida’s Environment. Additionally, there will be a discussion and review of the task force to date and next steps. View the agenda and register for the online meeting via the Blue-Green Algae Task Force page.

Adaptive Nutrient Source Identification Programs Webinar

Join us on March 9th for FSA’s Adaptive Nutrient Source Identification Programs webinar. The webinar will review examples of adaptive nutrient source identification programs used to pinpoint pollutant source locations and maximize BMP investment. Learn how the deliberate targeting of water quality monitoring resources can maximize investment and provide water quality improvements. We'll explore adaptive nutrient source identification programs and how they use an array of data, including land cover, highly specific tracers, and innovative sampling design and analyses to pinpoint pollutant source locations.

The webinar is brought to FSA members free of charge thanks to the sponsorship of Applied SciencesApplied SciencesRegister today to save your seat! 

Nominations Due for 2023 Stormwater Excellence Awards

FSA’s Awards Program recognizes outstanding stormwater Programs or Projects and the benefits they provide to the environment and local community. Awards are presented annually to public sector members who have demonstrated high quality distinctions in stormwater programs or projects.  Interested? Submit a Nomination Form by February 17, 2023!

FSAEF Offering Scholarship Awards

The FSA Educational Foundation’s Scholarship Program awards financial assistance to qualified students attending Florida colleges and universities whose educational interest is in stormwater research, management or finance. Applications are accepted annually from graduate students in Florida colleges or schools of engineering, natural science, public administration (or closely related fields) that have an interest in stormwater quality, management or finance. Qualified applicants should apply by August 11, 2023. Please help us spread the word! To view the 2022 Scholarship winners including videos of their work, visit our Scholarship page.

2022 Scholarship Winners2022 Scholarship Winners with FSAEF Chair Brett Cunningham

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