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The regulation of water quality standards is administered by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) as delegated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) through the CWA. Standards are set for pollutants, such as nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), metals, bacteria, etc., in order to keep levels that are safe for both human consumption/contact, and aquatic life and vegetation.
The most prevalent pollutants in Florida are nutrients and mercury. Nutrient pollution –excess nitrogen and phosphorous- can come from many different sources, including untreated sewage, leaking septic tanks, inadequately treated stormwater, and animal waste. Nutrient pollution can also come from the improper application of fertilizer either on agricultural lands or even from our own backyards.
If a waterbody does not meet its applicable water quality standard(s) for any type of pollutant, DEP is required to develop what is known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) which sets the numeric limits on the amount of pollutant loading allowed within the “impaired’ waterbody.
After developing the TMDL, the implementation of the limits is driven by a process known as a Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) which assigns responsibility for reducing pollutants to counties, cities, and other municipalities. DEP also requires nonpoint source polluters (like agricultural operations), to implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce their contribution to the impairment.
Unfortunately, BMPs are not always effective enough at controlling nonpoint source pollution, and more needs to be done to ensure the BMPs are working successfully – both in urban and agricultural areas.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida is involved at all levels of these processes – from helping identify waterbodies which are polluted, to ensuring that the TMDL limits and the BMAP implementation are effective in cleaning up and restoring waterbodies in a timely manner.
We continue to advocate for adequate sampling of waterbodies, more stringent BMPs and enforcement, and controlling pollution at the source in order to avoid the more costly and time consuming clean-up and restoration required once a waterbody becomes polluted.
Fertilizers placed on your lawn to make the grasses grow can have the same effect on algae species in our waterways – help them grow. The resulting blooms can kill fish and other aquatic organisms.
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida Policy and Advocacy Department continues to fight for stronger more comprehensive oil and gas legislation.
The Conservancy works with decision makers, and directly with mining operations if possible, to eliminate and minimize the negative impacts of land use changes on natural resources.
1495 Smith Preserve Way Naples, Florida 34102
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239-262-0304 phone 239-262-0672 fax
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