Southwest Florida waterbodies suffer from a number of pollution problems, including nutrients from excess fertilizer and stormwater runoff, bacteria, and metals such as copper, iron and mercury. If a waterbody is polluted due to anthropogenic (i.e., human related) activities, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is required to set a pollutant limit – known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).
A TMDL is essentially the maximum load (amount) of any given pollutant that is allowed in a waterbody. Once a waterbody receives a TMDL, certain types of facilities, like wastewater treatment plants, are automatically required to make sure their discharges are in compliance with the TMDL. These types of dischargers are referred to as “point sources” because the source and location of the discharge is readily identified.
There is another type of pollution, “nonpoint source” pollution, which is harder to pinpoint the source of, and often has many different contributors – such as residential areas, golf courses, urban stormwater, or agricultural fields. That’s where Basin Management Action Plan’s (BMAPs) come in.
BMAPs are multi-year implementation plans designed to achieve the limits set by the TMDL within a 20-year timeframe.
The DEP, in coordination with other agencies, local governments and stakeholders, allocates specific reductions to each contributing polluter – whether it’s a city, county, or other municipality, as well as allocations for nonpoint sources, like agriculture, which are asked to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce their contribution to the impairment.
Unfortunately, BMPs have not proven to be effective enough at controlling nonpoint source pollution, and there is little enforcement by DEP or other agencies at this time. This is one of many challenges for restoration plans like BMAPs – ensuring that the estimated reductions in the plan are actually achieved in the real world implementation.
The Conservancy actively advocates for solutions, such as requiring monitoring of BMPs for effectiveness and enforcement when a BMP is not effective.
There are many TMDLs, and several BMAPs within the Conservancy’s 5-county region, some of which include:
The Conservancy is involved at all levels of local TMDL and BMAP development, from the time the waterbody is designated impaired, through the various phases of the BMAP.
The Conservancy works to ensure the TMDLs are sufficiently stringent and that the BMAPs are updated regularly with the most recent data and information for restoring the waterbody back to a healthy state.
The Conservancy advocates for appropriate and timely BMAP clean-up projects and enforcement of required pollution reductions if targets are not being met.
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