November/December 2023, Volume 25, Issue 10 

Thank you to our Newsletter Sponsors!

 Table of Contents

A Message from Your FSA Legislative & Agency Relations Committee Chair

Mark Heidecker

On behalf of the FSA membership, the Legislative & Agency Relations Committee navigates the complex legislative and rulemaking process with a continued focus on protecting and improving our water resources. This past year the Statewide Stormwater Rule was adopted without challenge and is heavily supported by FSA. However, to become effective it must be ratified by the Florida Legislature. This rule implements stormwater treatment performance criteria to increase treatment and removal of nutrients, establishes BMPs that more accurately reflect the latest scientific information on their performance and strengthens requirements for operation, inspection, maintenance, and reporting of stormwater management systems. Please reach out to your representatives and express your support. The Legislative session begins January 9, 2024.

The Legislative and Agency Relations Committee is also monitoring efforts related to Water Quality Enhancement Area rulemaking. Such rulemaking was initiated as required by HB965, which was passed during the 2022 Legislative session. It is a bit unclear what the legislation and resulting rulemaking aims to accomplish considering existing rules (62-306, FAC & 62-330, FAC) allow for the proposed activities. Nevertheless, our committee will continue to work with FDEP and membership on developing a palatable rule, which benefits water resources. Over the course of the upcoming year the Legislative & Agency Relations Committee and FSA will continue to monitor and engage in priority issues that affect stormwater management. You can follow our efforts on FSA’s Legislative Page (member login required). When the 2024 Legislative Session begins, FSA posts updated Priority Issue summaries on a weekly basis. If there is a water resource issue that is important to you and not being tracked, please let FSA know.

Mark Heidecker
Legislative & Agency Relations Committee Chair
City of Tallahassee

FSA Membership - Is This Your Last Newsletter?

This could be your last newsletter! FSA’s fiscal year began November 1, 2023. The 30-day “grace period” allowing member organizations and their staff to continue receiving member benefits ended on November 30, 2023. FSA is sending renewal notices to your organization’s primary contact, contact us today if you need a copy of your invoice.

2023 FSA Winter Conference

Winter Conference BannerFSA’s 2023 Winter Conference took place last week in Kissimmee, FL. We are excited to announce that this year’s Conference had record attendance with over 250 attendees and over fifty exhibit representatives! The Pre-Conference Workshop focused on “Resilience and Sustainability” and features a panel discussion of Resilience Officers across the state. The Opening Session kicked off with keynote speaker Jessica Kramer, Deputy Secretary for Regulatory Programs at FDEP providing a regulatory update and closed by recognizing Keith Fogarty with a lifetime Honorary Membership and presenting four FSA Educational Foundation Scholarships. The next two days were filled with presentations on a number of topics impacting Florida’s stormwater community. A big thank you to our Exhibitors and Sponsors for their support of FSA – thank you!

Interim Legislative Committee Meetings Conclude

The final week of Interim Legislative Committee meetings will begin on December 15, 2023, with the 2024 Legislative Session set to convene on January 9, 2024. Visit FSA’s member legislative webpage for up-to-date information on bills of interest to stormwater programs.

Water Quality Enhancement Area Rule Workshop and Draft Rule

On November 8th, FDEP held the first rulemaking workshop to review draft rule language developed to establish a water quality credit trading program between water quality enhancement areas permitted under the environmental resource permitting program and governmental entities. FDEP provided an overview of the rule history, including the bill language directing FDEP to initiate this rule making effort, and provided a review of the draft rule language. FDEP did note that this rule making effort has no impact on the current Statewide Stormwater Rule effort that is adopted and waiting on ratification from the legislature. After the presentation, FDEP invited speakers to provide input on the draft rule and provide questions for the department to address as this effort moves forward. FDEP noted that another workshop would be taking place in 2024, tentatively scheduled for later in February or March. FSA attended the workshop along with numerous FSA members, who provided initial comments and questions concerning the draft rule language. FSA is currently developing comments that will be submitted to FDEP before the due date of December 6th, and if you have comments you would like FSA to include, please email them to [email protected].

Visit FDEP’s Water Quality Enhancement Areas Rulemaking webpage for updates on this rulemaking effort including details on this past workshop (including a recording of the workshop and a copy of the presentation) and upcoming workshops as they take place.

 New Statewide Stormwater Rule - How Can You Help?

The pending ratification of the Florida statewide stormwater rule represents an important step towards comprehensive and science-based regulation. By establishing treatment performance criteria, incorporating BMPs, and utilizing the latest scientific information, this rule will play a vital role in safeguarding Florida's water quality. The state adopted (yet not effective) Statewide Stormwater Rule sits awaiting rule ratification during the 2024 Legislative Session. As we await the introduction of a bill, it is important to note that any changes to the adopted rule would require a full reset of the rulemaking process, including a new review and comment period, and another chance to challenge the rule. Changes to the current adopted rule will delay the new rule from being effective beyond 2025. Please reach out to your local representatives to make them aware of this important legislation and to share your support. The Legislative Session begins January 9, 2024. For a complete history of the process including the current rule language, visit the Statewide Stormwater Rule section of the FSA Advocacy page.

Fertilizer Ordinance Survey

Thank you to the FSA members who provided information via the Fertilizer Ordinance Survey request during September and October. FSA received information from over sixty local governments, all of which had an ordinance in place. Many had a seasonal ban (mostly summer) but not all. FSA is working on a final review and summary of the information provided and may be reaching out soon to follow up on information provided.

As a reminder, at the end of the 2023 Legislative Session, a one-year ban was adopted for new local government fertilizer ordinances that includes a seasonal ban on fertilizer application. Being of great concern to FSA’s membership, FSA aligned with the Florida League of Cities and Audubon Florida requesting that the Governor veto this budget line item. FSA believes that this ban was not necessary and a study that could have significant impact on local government policy cannot be achieved in a 6-month period. While a study could be valuable, it should be completed in a manner that allows adequate time to conduct research, be coordinated through an unbiased party, and would allow local governments (that rely on these bans) to participate in the research. Despite our concerns, the ban was adopted, and the University of Florida Institute for Food and Agricultural Science (UF/IFAS) is currently conducting a literature review on the effectiveness of fertilizer ordinances including seasonal bans. This review is due to be completed before the start of the 2024 Legislative Session.

2024 Legislative Session

CapitolThe 2024 Legislative Session starts on January 9th. FSA will be at the Capital continuing to monitor and provide feedback on all bills that have potential to impact members. The FSA lobbying team has been active during the interim committees both in October and November, meeting with over thirty state representatives and staff to convey our message of support for the adopted Statewide Stormwater Rule. FSA has started to monitor and flag bills of concern, including Senate Bill (SB) 406 - Statewide Environmental Resource Permitting Rules, which impacts the requirements of side slope design, and House Bill (HB) 527 - Land and Water Management, which impacts wetland buffers and water management districts reviews of wetlands. The FSA Legislative page will be updated as news happens and is always a good starting point for status and information on any filled bills.

BMAP STAR and Clean Waterways Act, SB712 Remediation Plan Notifications

For any FSA members in Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs), this time of year is when FDEP staff are actively reaching out for project information to include in the annual Statewide Annual Report (STAR). Project information can be submitted via the BMAP Project Portal, which is available through the FDEP Business Portal. Annually, to stay in compliance with BMAP implementation, each lead entity must review their projects online and either confirm that there are no changes or submit changes and submit new projects that may be assisting with restoration goals. The deadline for the 2023 updates is January 12, 2024. FSA members may also need to submit information to meet requirements from the Clean Waterways Act, specifically concerning wastewater and/or onsite sewage treatment and disposal systems (OSTDS) remediation plans. The plans, as required by the Clean Waterways Act (Chapter 2020-150, Laws of Florida) are due February 1, 2024, and the final plans are due by August 1, 2024. FDEP is required to update and adopt BMAPs by July 1, 2025, that incorporate these new wastewater treatment and OSTDS remediation plans.

2024 Annual Conference - Save the Date!

Mark your calendars for FSA’s 2024 Annual Conference to be held June 12-14, 2024, at the Sanibel Harbour Marriott. The Call for Presentations will launch in December and stormwater leaders throughout Florida are invited to submit presentation proposals. Watch your email for more information to come soon!

Invest in the Future of Stormwater Management

Did you know that FSA’s Educational Foundation sponsors scholarships every year? By providing scholarships, students are encouraged and inspired to pursue careers in stormwater management.

The Foundation needs your help. These scholarships are only made possible by you, with your generous contributions. The best part is your contribution is a WIN! WIN! By donating, you not only help to further the stormwater management profession, your donation is also tax-deductible. It’s getting close to the end of the year so this contribution can be used as a deduction on this year’s tax return. Individuals can give, organizations can give and its tax deductible!

 We appreciate your feedback! Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about FSA.