March 2024, Volume 26, Issue 3

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 Table of Contents

Ratification of the Statewide Stormwater Rule and 2024 Legislative Session Recap Webinar

Florida’s 2024 Legislative Session ended March 8th and FSA is pleased to report that the ratification of the Statewide Stormwater Rule passed unanimously via Senate Bill 7040 (SB 7040). The Statewide Stormwater Rule, initiated through the 2020 Clean Waterways Act, sets a framework for stormwater management and increased nutrient removal throughout the state of Florida. The rule implements stormwater treatment performance criteria to increase treatment and removal of nutrients, establishes better performing BMPs that more accurately reflect the latest scientific information and strengthens requirements for operation, inspection, maintenance, and reporting of stormwater management systems. The ratification process was a roller coaster of committee hearings, compromises, and last second amendments. Ultimately the April 2023 adopted rule was amended by the Legislature and now is waiting for the Governor’s signature. While the amendments included in SB 7040 were not what we had hoped, the adopted and now revised rule will strengthen stormwater design standards and performance criteria on a statewide basis. Standards that are more protective of water resources statewide will lessen the need for local governments to adopt their own (more stringent) standards and allow for regulatory consistency. The updated Statewide Stormwater Rule culminates a multiyear process that included countless hours of FSA input, review, and discussion. FSA is now looking ahead to the next phase of the process, understanding implementation of the rule, and working on training programs to assist members as they navigate the new standards.

Interested in learning more about changes to the Stormwater Rule? Be sure to view the above links for detailed changes (April 2023 adopted rule + changes made by the Legislature in SB 7040). FSA is also offering exclusive FSA member-only access to our 2023 Fall Seminar, Navigating the Statewide Stormwater Rule, which provided a detailed analysis of the rule including FDEP’s implementation examples.

Beyond the rule ratification effort, the 2024 Legislative Session saw a range of bills, from bills targeting FDEP adopted water quality restoration plans, new guidance and requirements for resiliency planning and development, updates to mitigation activities, to a series of local government preemption bills. A win for FSA was the lack of any further action on the seasonal fertilizer bans in local government ordinances, something that was introduced at the end of the 2023 Legislative Session. This was one item many groups were watching, and enough pressure was put on representatives to not bring this needless action back into play. After July 1, 2024, local governments can initiate actions to develop or revise seasonal fertilizer bans in ordinances, which is a local cost yet effective measure to help reduce pollution in local waters. Interested in more information? FSA Members can visit FSA’s Legislative Page for a summary of our Priority Issues and detailed bill information. You can also go to FSA’s Webinar Archive to view the 2024 Legislative Recap webinar available to members on FSA’s webpage page. The webinar provides an overview of the Priority Issues bills FSA tracked, including how bills fared from ones that passed, to ones that failed. A big thank you to Applied Sciences for sponsoring the webinar, their contribution allowed us to bring this webinar to members free of charge.

Florida 404 Wetland Permitting Program Update

In February major news hit Florida stakeholders who work in the wetland permitting arena, when a decision from the U.S. District Court in Washington D.C. vacated the state run 404 Wetland Permitting Program. The February 15th decision sided with plaintiffs who challenged the endangered species review process, and the decision has stalled further action on wetland permits not already addressed or reviewed by the permitting agency. On February 26th, Florida submitted a motion for limited stay on the decision, requesting the FDEP be allowed to continue processing and reviewing wetland applications that required 404 decisions until further decisions and/or appeals are finalized. The U.S. EPA did not agree with the submitted limited stay motion and at this time the permitting review has fallen back to the federal agencies who previously had authority before the transition to FDEP. Overall, many permits, estimated to be over 1,000 total, are on hold until a further decision or appeal is made to move things forward. For more information visit FDEP’s State 404 Program page.

FDEP did gain support from the United States House of Representatives, which recently passed the Creating Confidence in Clean Water Permitting Act (HR 7023), which included an amendment by U.S. Representative Aaron Bean that codifies the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s approval of Florida’s Section 404 Program. HR 7023 now moves to the Senate for review and potential approval, then would move on for final signature by the President if passed by the Senate. FSA will continue to track this issue, including efforts moving forward by federal representatives, and will continue to keep members posted as new information becomes available.

FDEP Stormwater Related Rulemaking Efforts

While FDEP waits for the Governor to sign the updated stormwater rule, three other rules are under consideration for updates and changes.
  • FDEP has provided updated language to the Water Quality Enhancement Area Rule (WQEA) and held its second public workshop on March 21st to discuss revisions to the draft WQEA rule. FDEP is accepting comments through May 2nd. For updated draft rule language and workshop details visit FDEP’s Water Quality Enhancement Area Rulemaking website.

  • A notice to change the current Water Quality Credit Trading Rule (Chapter 62-306, F.A.C. Pursuant to Section 403.067, Florida Statutes, Chapter 62-306, F.A.C) was posted in early March. At this time no updated information has been provided, nor has a meeting been scheduled.

  • A notice to revise the rule implementing the Sea Level Impact Projection (SLIP) study requirements (Section 380.0937, F.S.) for state-financed construction projects located within areas at risk due to sea level rise, expanding both the geographic area and types of structures to which this requirement applies. For more information and materials visit the Resilient Florida Program Rulemaking website.

FSA will be following all these efforts and will work with members to provide comments and feedback on each rule.

Future TMDL & BMAP Meetings

FDEP has a set of meetings for TMDLs and BMAPs scheduled for April 2024. FDEP has been working to update and propose new Fecal Indicator Bacteria (FIB) Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) in southwest Florida and has scheduled a meeting on April 4, 2024 at 2:00 p.m. EDT to discuss the draft TMDL document and provide a forum for discussions and accept comments from stakeholders. The meeting is open to the public and will be held virtually and in-person in Ft. Myers. View the draft TMDL document and register for the meeting via the FDEP Bacteria TMDL webpage.

As FDEP works to update all nutrient Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) to meet statutory requirements of the 2020 Clean Waterways Act, a series of meetings have been planned to inform stakeholders on changes being proposed to each BMAP. For more information, reach out to BMAP staff via contact information on FDEP’s BMAP page. FSA would recommend members located in these BMAP areas attend and provide feedback to FDEP as revisions to such things as advanced wastewater treatment requirements, allocations that are revised or developed, or other implementation requirements will be discussed.

Currently scheduled meetings:

  • April 2, 2024 at 1:00 p.m. EDT - Caloosahatchee River and Estuary BMAP & Everglades West Coast BMAP
  • April 3, 2024 at 1:00 p.m. EDT - St. Lucie River and Estuary BMAP
  • April 4, 2024 at 1:00 p.m. EDT - Lake Okeechobee BMAP
  • April 9, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. EDT - Upper Wakulla River and Wakulla Springs BMAP
  • April 11, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. EDT - Wacissa Spring Group BMAP
  • April 18, 2024 at 10:00 a.m. CDT - Jackson Blue Spring and Merritts Mill Pond BMAP
  • April 25, 2024 at 1:00 p.m. EDT - North Indian River Lagoon, Banana River Lagoon and Central Indian River Lagoon BMAP

Stormwater Master Planning Webinar - Registration Open!

Join us May 9th from 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. EDT for FSA’s Stormwater Master Planning: Embracing Technology and Resilience Webinar.  Stormwater master planning is a critical component of urban infrastructure management, addressing stormwater runoff challenges and its impacts on cities and counties and our natural resources. Join us to explore the evolution of stormwater master planning emphasizing the integration of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and other technologies, the shift towards viewing stormwater as a resource, and the increasing focus on climate resilience. This event is brought to FSA members free of charge thanks to the sponsorship of Applied Sciences. Register today to save your seat!

FSA Annual Conference - Don’t Miss Out!

Join us in Ft. Myers on June 12-14, 2024 as we focus on Waves of Change: Stormwater Management Solutions. Attendees will have access to an array of workshops covering topics facing today’s stormwater community, the opportunity to network with peers, and exposure to the latest stormwater solutions presented in the Exhibit Hall. Register before April 5th for deeply discounted, early-bird registration rates. Hurry, seats are filling up quickly!

Calling all Sponsors and Exhibitors – You won’t want to miss this opportunity to showcase your products and services to Florida’s stormwater professionals. It’s not too late to secure a booth in the Exhibit Hall, including an exclusive opportunity to submit a presentation for this year’s Shark Tank Style Emerging Technologies session (with a 1st place prize!), and show your support of the stormwater community. See who is already signed up to join us and explore available Exhibitor and Sponsor opportunities online.

Meet Representative Lindsay Cross

Lindsay Cross is an accomplished environmental scientist with over two decades of dedicated service restoring and protecting water quality and habitats in Tampa Bay and statewide. With a degree in Environmental Health, Lindsay's academic journey took her abroad to study in Costa Rica and Spain. Her professional career includes leadership roles in the private sector, government, and non-profit sectors, contributing to remarkable improvements in water quality and environmental health.

In the State Legislature, during her first legislative session, Lindsay achieved noteworthy results by securing over $2 million for road improvements, parks, water quality, workforce development, and the arts in her district, demonstrating her effectiveness as a freshman member of the minority party. Lindsay has worked to protect Florida's natural environment and water by fighting against the use of radioactive waste material in road construction and championing more than $1 billion in water and land conservation funding in 2023. She's passed legislation to increase affordable housing and sponsored bills addressing water quality and resilience.

Lindsay will be delivering the keynote address at FSA’s 2024 Annual Conference. She will discuss the future of water policy in Florida. Attendees will hear about the water quality and supply issues confronting Florida, and how state and local governments can partner to better structure water protection programs and implement water quality goals. She will also review our successes over the past year by recognizing the work of stormwater programs across the state.

If you haven’t already registered for the Annual Conference, hurry, we’re filling up quickly!  Register Today!

FSAEF Stormwater Scholarship Award

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!

2024-25 Board Elections in June

FSA is looking for dynamic leaders dedicated to ensuring the continued success of the Association. There will be elections to fill vacancies on the Florida Stormwater Association and the FSA Educational Foundation Boards of Directors during the Friday Annual Membership meeting at this year’s Annual Conference. 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! If you’re interested in serving or if you know of a member that you would like to recommend to serve, please send your recommendation to [email protected] or complete a Board of Directors Nomination Form today! Recommendations must be submitted by June 3, 2024. To view current nominations for the 2024-25 Board of Directors visit FSA’s Elections page.


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