February 2024, Volume 26, Issue 2

Thank you to our Newsletter Sponsors!

 Table of Contents

2024 Annual Conference – Join Us in Sanibel!

Registration for FSA’s 2024 Annual Conference will open in early March!  Plan to join us June 12-14, 2024 in Ft. Myers, Florida as we focus on Waves of Changes: Stormwater Management Solutions. Conference attendees will hear presentations on an array of topics facing Florida’s stormwater community and will have the opportunity to network and exchange information with peers.  New this year, we are excited to announce that we will be hosting a service project to give back to the local community impacted by Hurricane Ian. Join us Wednesday morning, June 12th for a beach cleanup project on Ft. Myers Beach, Bunche Beach Preserve. The conference will also provide a number of exhibitor and sponsor opportunities including the Emerging Technologies Session – Shark Tank Style! Stay tuned, complete details and registration will be posted on the FSA Conference page and in your inbox soon!

p.s. One lucky FSA member will be receiving a call very soon to share that they have won a free Conference registration as our thank you for completing FSA’s recent membership survey!

District Court Vacates Florida 404 Wetland Permitting Program

On Thursday February 15th, the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. ruled in favor of plaintiffs who challenged the US EPA’s approval of Florida’s assumption application for the 404 wetland permitting program, a landmark decision that could have significant impacts to future development in the state. The decision was based on issues surrounding how the state handled the Endangered Species Act review and noted discrepancies between the state and federal process. The District Court’s ruling vacated the decision that provided FDEP with the authority to manage the 404 Wetland program and now could potentially bring the program back under federal jurisdiction. On February 26th, FDEP (acting as an Intervenor on the case) filed a motion seeking a partial stay on the decision of the case. The motion included recommendations for moving forward, but most importantly requested the stay be in effect for six months with the ability to extend. FSA will continue to monitor information as it is released from state and federal permitting agencies.

2024 Legislative Session & Stormwater Rule Ratification Update

As February comes to a close, the end of the 2024 Florida Legislative Session is fast approaching. The scheduled end is next Friday, March 8th so time is running out for bills to pass. This session continued the trend of bills with legislative intent to preempt local governments’ manner to govern. Many of the preemption bills include limitations placed on local governments’ planning and permitting parameters, with bills decreasing the time to review and approve building permits (example bills include HB 791/SB 1150). While not as widespread as it was in 2023, the pursuit of preemption continues, and we can assume will carry forward into future legislative sessions. FSA opposed some concerning bills from the start of session, including the Land and Water Management bills (HB 527/SB 664).  These bills included questionable wetlands buffer actions and extreme limitations to local governments’ ability to conduct dredge and fill, and fortunately this legislation did not move into any committees or ever get a chance to be heard. FSA along with other stakeholders worked to ensure these two bills, and other opposed bills, faced scrutiny and hurdles. Other notable legislative efforts, such as the set of FDEP bills (HB 1557/SB 1386) which include new provisions for reclaimed water use, septic systems (OSTDS) governance, and resiliency efforts. Both FDEP bills have progressed through each chamber and face a likely outcome of passing.

The two bills that FSA considered the highest priority this session (HB 7053/SB 7040), the Ratification of the Statewide Stormwater Rule, moved forward through all assigned committee stops in both the House and Senate. The Senate bill saw numerous amendments from legislators, mostly centered around further preemptions and grandfathering clauses for the development community and received approval by all assigned Senate Committees. In the House, amendments were also filed, some including FSA’s suggested revisions to add clarity and deadlines to exemptions. Both the House and Senate bills have completed their committee stops and now move to the floor. On February 22nd the Senate bill passed on the floor and on February 27th the House bill was added to the Second Reading Calendar. Once both bills pass the House and Senate, the final step in the ratification process will be sending the bill to the Governor office. To view current amendments, a summary of stormwater priority issues, and all the legislation that FSA is tracking, visit FSA’s Legislative page.

Don’t forget to join us on March 14th for the only "post Session" webinar focused on Florida stormwater legislation! The webinar will examine what was introduced, what passed and failed in 2024, and what might be returning for 2025. Register today to save your seat! The webinar is brought to FSA members free of charge thanks to the sponsorship of Applied Sciences.

Impaired Waters Rule (IWR) Data Request

FDEP’s Watershed Assessment Section will be utilizing water quality data from various sources, including the Watershed Information Network (WIN), to produce an updated Impaired Waters Rule (IWR) Run database. This IWR Run database forms the basis for draft basin assessment lists, and a new biennial assessment will be created from this database. FDEP has requested stakeholders that have data that meets WIN requirements to submit information to WIN by June 15, 2024. FDEP can share parameters and information concerning data quality and requirements with stakeholders wishing to submit. Visit FDEP’s Watershed Information Network (WIN) page for more information.

FDEP Fecal Indicator Bacteria TMDLs – Future Meetings Planned

FDEP has been working to update numerous Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) addressing fecal indicator bacteria (FIB) impaired waters, and has recently moved to update one area, the Everglades West Coast basins located in Southwest Florida. FDEP is planning to hold a stakeholder meeting later this spring, likely in April 2024, to provide an overview of updated approaches and receive comments from stakeholders. Once a formal announcement has been made, FSA will provide members with a link to the meeting and be in attendance to provide support as this updated TMDL effort moves forward. To learn more visit FDEP’s Bacteria TMDLs page.

Slip Study Rule – FDEP Accepting Comments

FDEP has incorporated feedback received from the December 13, 2023 Public Financing of Coastal Construction “SLIP Study Rule” public rulemaking workshop and public comment period into the draft rule language. The updated draft rule language can be found on our Resilient Florida rulemaking webpage. FDEP will be accepting comments on the updated draft language until March 10, 2024. If you have comments on the draft rule, please e-mail them to [email protected].

Webinar Using CWSRF Emerging Contaminants Funds to Tackle New/Re-emerging Contamination Concerns

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is hosting a webinar on March 13, 2024 from 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m. Eastern featuring a panel of Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) Assistance Recipients that will share Emerging Contaminant projects that are currently underway. The webinar will feature a variety of emerging contaminants and project types, beyond per-and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Panelists will share how they targeted and identified specific emerging contaminants, their application experience, and details of their project plan.

Free Stormwater BMP Life-Cycle Costing Tool

Determining treatment effectiveness is an important part of project planning, design, grant funding, and ultimately achieving the most efficient investment of resources. However, there is no industry standard for how to go about doing this. While there are standards for BMP efficiencies, there is not an industry standard in Florida for determining life-cycle costing. With treatment effectiveness often being one consideration in water quality grants, the absence of an industry standard leads to unequitable comparisons between projects. Did you know that the Florida Stormwater Association Educational Foundation’s (FSAEF) recent research project developed a costing approach methodology and a BMP Life-Cycle Costing Tool to aide in the development of an industry standard for the state of Florida? Visit the FSAEF Research page to find out more and download the tool today.

 Florida Stormwater Utility Report Trends – Coming Soon!

FSA wants to take a moment to thank all the local governments that took the time to complete this year's survey as we compile the 2024 Florida Stormwater Utility Report! The Report summarizes the results of FSA's 15th biennial survey of stormwater utilities in Florida. Its purpose is to provide information to both managers and policymakers in state and local government. Trends in the characteristics of the stormwater programs, utility rates and other practices within local government can be observed by comparing FSA's survey results. FSA’s Report is widely recognized throughout Florida by managers and policymakers at both the state and local levels. As our thank you, each local government that participates will receive a complimentary copy of the Report in June! If you missed the deadline to submit or have any questions, or would like to inquire about sponsoring the Report, contact FSA!

FSA & FSAEF Board Elections in June

There will be elections to fill vacancies on the Boards of Directors of the Florida Stormwater Association (FSA) and the FSA Educational Foundation (FSAEF) during this year’s Annual Conference. FSA is looking for dynamic leaders dedicated to ensuring the continued success of the Association. This is your chance to help lead the primary organization dedicated to furthering the stormwater management profession and water quality improvement programs in Florida. What’s in it for you?

  • An opportunity to enhance the value and set the direction of FSA and FSAEF
  • A significant role in advancing your profession and water quality programs
  • Access to up-to-date information about the challenges facing your profession
  • The chance to exchange ideas and perspectives with other volunteer leaders

We want to hear from you! FSA needs your Board of Directors Nomination Form by June 3, 2024.  Recommendations received after the deadline, including nominations made from the floor at the Annual Membership Meeting, will be accepted, however, candidate details cannot be included in the upcoming Elections page.

Does Your FSA Stormwater Operator Certification Expire in 2024?

Don’t let your FSA Stormwater Operator certification expire!  The first opportunity to renew in 2024 will be through online webinars held on April 2, 2024. FSA Certifications must be renewed every five years.  The FSA Fogarty Training Center offers Online Recertification Webinars that provide a convenient, cost-effective way to renew your certification. Register today for Level 1 and/or Level 2.

Not sure when your certification expires? Log in to your personal FSA profile, scroll down to find your Level 1 and/or Level 2 expiration year or you can view the Stormwater Operator Certification Renewal Date List.

Stormwater Scholarships for Florida Graduate Students

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. The Foundation will be awarding at least $2,000 per recipient in 2024.  Applications are accepted annually from graduate students in 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 submit an Application Form by August 23, 2024.  Please help us spread the word!

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