Resource Regulations

WaterNational Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

The current Palm Beach County Municipal NPDES Permit was issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) on March 2, 2011.  SIRWCD is a co-permittee along with 34 municipalities, the Department of Transportation, Palm Beach County, and four special districts.  In order to complete the permit-related activities that are performed collectively by the co-permittees, an NPDES Steering Committee was formed. The Steering Committee meets on a regular basis to evaluate the program, to provide training and resources to the co-permittees, and to assist with the preparation of the annual reports. District staff continues to attend the Committee Meetings as a Steering Committee Board member. This past year the meetings included a discussion of Numeric Nutrient Criteria for South Florida canals and estuaries, public education, Year 3 water quality monitoring and pollutant loading results, the Annual Reports and Joint Report. A training video session was also conducted to satisfy permit requirements. Click here for links to more NPDES information.

Numeric Nutrient Criteria

On January 14, 2010, the EPA proposed a rule entitled “Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida’s Lakes and Flowing Waters.”  With this rule, the EPA has proposed water quality standards in the State of Florida that would set a series of numeric limits on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen, also known as “nutrients,” that would be allowed in Florida’s lakes, rivers, streams, springs and canals.

 

After several public hearings, on April 22, 2011, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) submitted a petition to EPA requesting EPA to withdraw its January 2009 determination that NNC are necessary in Florida, repeal Federal rulemaking completed in November 2010 to establish such criteria for inland lakes and streams, and refrain from proposing or promulgating any further NNC. The petition outlined FDEP's plans to undertake its own rulemaking for nutrient criteria for state waters. The projected rulemaking schedule called for a Notice of Rule Development in June 2011, a rule development and public outreach process through the summer and early fall of 2011, and adoption of a final rule was anticipated in January 2012, to be followed by a legislative ratification process under Florida law. The EPA supported FDEP's commitment to recommence its rulemaking efforts for both inland and estuarine waters. EPA recognized that states have the primary role in establishing and implementing water quality standards for their waters. On September 29, 2011, FDEP published a draft of the propsed rule in the Florida Administrative Code (FAC) titled Chapert 62-302 regarding nutrient standards and the rule was presented to the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC), the Florida Legislature, and the Governor, who signed House Bill (HB) 7051, ratifying the proposed rule. There was a challenge to the rule that was filed by Earthjustice, however an administrative law judge upheld the state’s proposed new water quality rules on June 7, 2012. 

 

On November 30, 2012, EPA announced its approval of FDEP’s NNC. However, EPA also proposed additional regulations that would apply EPA’s criteria to those waters not covered by FDEP’s NNC, such as urban storm water conveyances, open ocean waters, and many estuaries where FDEP Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) have already been adopted. Since EPA developed NNC on waters not covered by FDEP’s NNC, EPA and FDEP entered into an agreement on March 15, 2013, known as “Path Forward”, to develop a plan for FDEP to develop NNC for the remaining waterbodies before EPA’s consent decree deadline of September 30, 2013. 

 

Since the agreement, FDEP adopted a NNC Implementation Document on April 23, 2013; adopted criteria for additional estuaries such as the Loxahatchee River Estuary on June 20, 2013; and have developed a report titled, “Status of Efforts to Establish Numeric Interpretations of the Narrative Nutrient Criterion for Florida Estuaries and Current Nutrient Conditions of Unimpaired Waters” to the Governor as required by the “Path Forward” agreement with EPA and Chapter 2013-71, Laws of Florida on August 1, 2013.

 

On September 24, 2013, a hearing was held in court on EPA’s motion to approve the Florida regulations.  On January 7, 2014, the US District Court granted EPA’s motion to modify the Consent Decree between EPA and various environmental organizations.  The action allows EPA’s approval of FDEP’s plan for NNC regulations in Florida to move ahead, and denies the environmental parties’ motion to enforce the original Consent Decree. Earthjustice filed a motion on March 6, 2014 to appeal Judge Hinkles’ order for allowing EPA to modify the consent decree to conform it to the “Path Forward” agreement between the FDEP and EPA.  On April 2, 2014, EPA filed to withdraw their proposed rule on NNC in Florida and on June 20, 2014, Earthjustice and other environmental groups filed their initial appeal of Judge Robert Hinkle’s Order allowing EPA to accept FDEP’s plan for NNC in Florida.

 

Neither the EPA nor FDEP have NNC for South Florida waterbodies, especially the canals.  FDEP drafted the “South Florida Canal Aquatic Life Study” and presented the study to stakeholders on November 1, 2012.  This study proposes to perform a comprehensive assessment of South Florida canals and the aquatic life associated with those canals.  The objectives of the study are:

  1. Assess aquatic life in South Florida canals;

  2. Determine interrelationships between aquatic life in canals and other variables that affect aquatic life;

  3. Evaluate the differences in conditions for South Florida canals; and

  4. Collect information that can be used to guide management decisions.

 Eventually, this study will be used to determine if NNC are necessary for these waterbodies. 

Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Proposed Rule

On April 21, 2014, the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers proposed draft rules revising the definitions of Water of the United States or “WOTUS”. The stated intent of the changes is to clarify what is and what is not a WOTUS. However, the new regulations will result in significant impacts on the NPDES program and municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permit holders because most ditches, stormwater conveyances, certain flood control devices, and retention ponds in floodplains will be considered to be “WOTUS” and subject to permit conditions and numeric nutrient criteria. Comments on the proposed rules will be received by EPA through October 20, 2014. The proposed rule was challenged by a petition filed by 13 western states and on October 9, 2015, the Sixth Judicial Circuit Court of Appeals issued a nationwide injunction stopping the WOTUS rules from being implemented. Currently the rule has not been implemented due to the court process.

Public Facilities Report - Water Control Plan

Chapter 189 of the Florida Statutes, the Uniform Special District Accountability Act, requires the preparation and submission of a Public Facilities Report to governmental jurisdictions in which the District resides such as Palm Beach County, the Town of Jupiter, and South Florida Water Management District. Special Districts are required to submit an update to this report every five years and, at a minimum, the report must contain information as to the status of the District’s public facilities and changes or revisions to those facilities that have occurred in the past year.

 

Since 1991, when the District filed its first Public Facilities Report, data collection has been an on-going process to provide for better and more accurate mapping of the works of the District. The Public Facilities Report is continually modified as each Plan of Improvement is added to the District’s facilities. In accordance with Chapter 298.225 Florida Statutes, the Water Control Plan is amended consistent with the preparation of any proposed Plan of Improvements during the last year.