Florida Department of Environmental Protection Rulemaking

General Permit for Seagrass Restoration 

This general permit is intended to streamline seagrass restoration. No draft has been released nor have hearings been scheduled. (This topic was covered in the October/November CCS newsletter). 

Generic NPDES Permit to allow discharges associated with experimental technologies to control Red Tide and Blue Green Algae.     

This proposed generic permit will authorize the discharge of pollutants into waters of the state for activities associated with experimental technologies to control red tide and blue green algae outbreaks. A generic permit is a type of general permit that is specific to a state’s federally delegated Clean Water Act NPDES program. General permits are intended to simplify and clarify current rule language, increase efficiency, and improve interagency coordination. Rulemaking on these experimental technologies permit began in 2020. A hearing scheduled for October of 2022 was postponed until April 13rd, 2023. The period for timely comments has expired.  Details on the upcoming virtual hearing can be found here. A copy of the proposed draft rule can be found here (click on “view notice”).  

The proposed generic permit rule does not specify the types of pollutant discharges that are authorized, does not list the technologies subject to the permit, and does not limit the size of the area in which the activity takes place. This summary of the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative offers some insight into current approaches under consideration.   

The applicant must submit detailed forms to FDEP prior to undertaking the permitted activity. These forms, currently in draft and available on request to the FDEP official identified here, require detailed information concerning the technology to be used, materials to be applied and the general geographic area of the application.  

The proposed rule requires certain threshold criteria to be met. The experimental technologies permit cannot be used in wetlands or surface waters that are designated as Outstanding Florida Waters or in Aquatic Preserves. It cannot “reduce the viability of the seagrass community,” or alter benthic topography without an Environmental Resource Permit issued under Part IV, Chapter 373, Florida Statutes. In addition, the generic permit prohibits adverse impacts to protected species or their habitat.   

Other FDEP rulemaking in progress include a substantively and procedurally complex effort to revamp the State’s stormwater rules pursuant to the 2020 Clean Waterways Act, nearly concluded, a rule amendment to clarify financial assurances for mitigation banks, and a rule amendment addressing regulation of private providers of Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems (OSTDS), e.g. septic tanks. Details of each of these can be found here.  

Governor’s New Executive Order: “Achieving Even More Now for Florida’s Environment”  

On January 10, 2023 Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order Number 23-06, titled “Achieving Even More Now for Florida’s Environment.” EO 23-06 directs state executive branch agencies to continue pursue the Governor’s water quality policy initiatives previously laid out in EO-19-12. EO 19-12 addressed Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) by creating the HABs task force, and established the Offices of the Chief Science Officer and Chief Resiliency Officer.  E) 23-06 also directs continued efforts to implement the 2020 Clean Waterways Act as well as related legislation and programmatic initiatives. Geographic focus is directed to Everglades Restoration and to the Indian River Lagoon. Substantive attention is directed to water quality hazards, including Harmful Algal Blooms, and to Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs), agricultural BMPs and septic tank conversion. The State’s Chief Resiliency Officer is charged with supporting hurricane recovery, overseeing the Resilient Florida Program which provides resiliency funding programs for local governments, increasing the State’s coral propagation and deployment capacity, and coordinating with FDOT on transportation resiliency. FDEP is charged with seeking “consistent and meaningful” annual funding for land conservation and expediting ongoing land conservation efforts. The full text of EO 23-06, along with further details, can be found here.