Frequently Asked Questions
Special FAQ Document -
for FDEP, FDACS, and UF-IFAS on
2009 Legislative Bills SB494 and SB2080
What is Nonpoint Source
Nonpoint source (NPS) pollution, unlike pollution from industrial
and sewage treatment plants, comes from many diffuse sources. NPS
pollution occurs when rainfall, snowmelt, or irrigation runs over
land or through the ground, picks up pollutants throughout the
watershed, and deposits them into rivers, lakes, and coastal waters
or introduces them into ground water. Imagine the path taken by a
drop of rain from the time it hits the ground to when it reaches a
river, ground water, or the ocean. Any pollutant it picks up on its
journey can become part of the NPS problem. NPS pollution also
includes adverse changes to the vegetation, shape, and flow of
streams and other aquatic systems.
NPS pollution is widespread because it can occur any time
activities disturb the land or water. Septic systems, urban runoff,
construction, recreational boating, agriculture, forestry, grazing,
physical changes to stream channels, and habitat degradation are all
potential sources of NPS pollution. Careless or uninformed household
management also contributes to NPS pollution problems.
For pointers on how you can help prevent NPS pollution, see the
NPS Pointers Fact Sheet
What is the 319 program?
Congress amended the Clean Water Act
(CWA) in 1987 to
Nonpoint Source Management Program because it recognized the need
for greater federal leadership to help focus State and local
nonpoint source efforts. Under section 319, State, Territories, and
Indian Tribes receive grant money which support a wide variety of
activities including technical assistance, financial assistance,
education, training, technology transfer, demonstration projects,
and monitoring to assess the success of specific nonpoint source
In Florida, the program is administered by the Nonpoint Source
Management section of the Florida Department of Environmental
FAQ for Florida Friendly Landscapes, FYN, Golf BMPs, Green Industry
BMP, Design Standards, and Model Ordinances.
What is Florida Friendly?
A. In plain language, Florida Friendly describes practices,
materials, or actions that help to preserve Florida’s natural
resources and protect the environment. All are based on the nine
principles: Right Plant, Right Place; Efficient Watering;
Appropriate Fertilization; Mulching; Attraction of Wildlife;
Responsible Management of Yard Pests; Recycling Yard Waste;
Reduction of Stormwater Runoff, and Waterfront Protection.
These practices promote the prevention of nonpoint source pollution
of surface and ground waters, water conservation, and species
diversity within the Florida landscape.
What is the DEP Nonpoint Source Management section and where
does it fit?
The Nonpoint Source Management section (NPSM) administers Section
319 of the federal Clean Water Act, which addresses state Nonpoint
Source Management Programs. In addition to administering
federal grant funds, the section develops best management practices
and other educational materials and promotes educational outreach
throughout the state to all levels. The section’s
scientific and engineering staff does some of this. Our partners,
such as the University of Florida’s Center for Landscape
Conservation and Ecology, carry out other parts, often with grant
funding and technical assistance from the section.
How does the Florida Yards and Neighborhoods (FYN) Program fit
in with the Golf and Green Industry BMPs, model ordinances, and the
Florida Friendly program.
All Florida Friendly programs are consistent in their message and
scientific recommendations. DEP provides funding through USEPA
319 Grants as a part of Florida’s core nonpoint source management
program. Academic oversight is through the UF/IFAS Center for
Landscape Conservation and Ecology in Gainesville.
The Landscape Irrigation and Florida Friendly Design
Standards were published in December, 2006 by DEP in accordance
with directives in 373.228 Florida Statutes. By law, any
local government adopting an ordinance addressing these issues
must use these standards.
The FYN homeowner program is written for the average
homeowner with no academic or professional horticultural
training. A new edition is being published by UF/IFAS in 2008.
The FYN Builder-developer program is an outreach effort to
change the way subdivisions and homes are landscaped when they
are originally designed and built.
The Green Industries manual and the associated training
program is written for the worker in the lawn/landscape industry
who may work with equipment, chemicals or formulations not
readily available to the homeowner, and who works under the
supervision of, or is themselves, an experienced,
horticulturally trained professional. It was published in
June 2002 by DEP, and is being revised for 2008.
The golf course manual is comprehensive and covers all the
environmental aspects of golf course design and operation.
It was published in January 2007 by DEP.
The model ordinances are drafted to provide sound guidance to
community planners and elected officials who may be considering
an ordinance for their community. Because the service
areas of stores, nurseries, and landscape related businesses
transcend political boundaries, consistent, science-based
regulations are necessary to avoid a hodgepodge of confusion on
the part of all concerned.
Are Home Owners Associations (HOAs) able to prevent people
from removing their lawns?
How can HOAs learn about Florida-Friendly Landscaping™ principles
that will fit in with their desired lifestyles?
The law (373.185 F.S. and other chapters) does not invalidate
architectural control committees or landscaping committees. It merely
states that covenants, restrictions, and ordinances may not prohibit
Florida-Friendly Landscaping practices.
- US Supreme Court:
Police powers of the States to protect public health and welfare may
trump private contracts.
- Does not invalidate
Landscape Committees or Architectural Control Committees – It does apply
- Does prohibit mandates
- water-wasting practices such as overwatering of
plants or inappropriate site design;
- inappropriate placement of plants such that regular
irrigation is required to keep the plants healthy or prohibitions
on attractive, well suited plants in the landscape in favor of other
plants that are less well suited to the site (wrong plant, wrong place);
- excessive or improper fertilization;
- excessive use of pesticides.
- Does prohibit any
watering mandates that are in violation of Water Management District
water use restrictions.
- Does forbid
- reasonable and appropriate use of mulch,
- plants attractive to wildlife such as butterfly or
hummingbird gardens or other non-nuisance wildlife,
- swales or rain gardens, waterfront buffers or other
- composting bins or rain barrels, etc.,
- However, it does not
prohibit reasonable limits such as to be well maintained or limited to a
backyard, side area or screened, where feasible.
You may hire a landscape architect with experience in this area, or
you may contact the local
Cooperative Extension Service /a>office and ask for the Florida Yards
and Neighborhoods agent, or the Master Gardener supervisor. You may be
able to arrange a presentation to your association’s architectural
control committee detailing the appropriate styles of Florida-friendly
yards that would work well in your neighborhood. The Florida-Friendly
Landscaping web site is at
Are model Covenants available?
Model Florida-Friendly Covenants are available in
“Florida Friendly Guidance Models for Ordinances, Covenants, and
Restrictions” available from DEP at
the NonPoint Source Management Publications page.
What is the history of the program?
The FYN program began in the early 1990’s in the Sarasota/Tampa
Bay areas. It began as a totally voluntary educational effort
under the auspices of the National Estuary Program, and focused on
very low input landscapes. In 1994 the DEP NPSM Section began
funding UF/IFAS to expand the program to more counties, and
eventually statewide, although not all counties have continued with
the program after grant funding for startup expired. As of
2008, approximately 44 of 68 Florida counties offer at least some
FYN programming. Several of the Water Management
Districts and other partners provide support for the county
programs, but the statewide office located in Gainesville is
primarily run by UF/IFAS with funding assistance from NPSM section
The Golf BMPs began in 1994 to address pesticide and hazardous
material contamination and were printed in 1995. As a BMP
manual, it was limited to the subject of pollution prevention in the
maintenance shop area. In 2007, FDEP published
Best Management Practices for Enhancement of Environmental Quality
on Florida Golf Courses, a 136 page manual on design, operation,
The FYN program that was started for the Indian River Lagoon area
in the mid-1990s had a special emphasis on Commercial Landscape
Industry Professionals. Also known as the CLIP program, this
project attempted to broaden the Florida Friendly audience beyond
homeowners in order to influence landscape management practices on a
larger scale. The pilot program was a success but the concept
languished for several years until 2000, when various professional
landscape maintenance groups and others approached the DEP under the
umbrella of “Green Industries” to write a BMP manual for lawn and
landscape maintenance statewide under the authority of urban BMP
provisions of the Florida Watershed Restoration Act (403.067F.S.).
This was a watershed event in the evolution of the Florida Friendly
At an early organizational meeting in Orlando, it was decided
that one document could not cover all audiences, and that at least
three would be required. These would be: (1) for the landscape
professional, who often uses different equipment and chemicals than
the homeowner, is horticulturally knowledgeable (or should be) and
has responsibilities as a licensed business entity; (2) for the
homeowner, who may have little or no horticultural training and may
be from another climate where practices and plant species are very
different; and (3) for golf courses, and possibly athletic
fields, which are too specialized to be addressed in either of the
others and where the management is almost always by degreed
Subsequently, it was decided that the FYN Handbook would become
the homeowner BMP manual for all Florida
yards, but that it would have to become more inclusive in
that all types of yards, not just very low impact yards, would have
to be addressed in the book. The focus of the FYN program
continues to be minimizing environmental impact, but the audience
now includes those desiring high-end landscapes and typical suburban
landscapes. Whatever type of landscape you have, or choose in the
future; the FYN Handbook will guide you in maintaining it in the
most environmentally responsible manner.
The Green Industries manual is focused on the professional, with
detailed discussions of fertilizer chemistry, irrigation systems,
pesticide licensing, storage, selection, and handling, landscape
design and installation, etc. It should be noted that the
Green Industries manual and the FYN handbook are consistent in their
recommendations of irrigation and fertilizer application rates, only
the level of detail is different and customized to the audience.
In 2008, the manual was revised to reflect new laws, rules, and
research. The title,
"Florida-Friendly Best Management Practices for Protection
of Water Resources by the Green Industries", was
revised to reflect incorporation into the formal Florida-Friendly
Why do the Green Industry BMPs allow as little as 3 feet of
buffer for fertilizer application? Some think 10, 15, or even 50 feet is
The “Ring of Responsibility” for fertilizer applicators is not
based on the attenuation of landscape pollution, like a filter strip
or riparian buffer. Rather, it is to prevent the applicator directly
applying fertilizer to water bodies when operating near a bank or
shoreline. A rotary broadcast fertilizer spreader can throw a
particle about 5 to7 feet out to the side. Professional
spreaders, and some homeowner types, have a deflector shield that
can be set to block off one side, providing a knife-like edge to the
fertilizer pattern. Three feet was considered by the BMP
committee to be a minimum margin of safety to avoid deposition in
the water. This is expanded to 10 feet if a deflector shield
is not used because a 7-foot throw would still be 3 feet from the
edge. Since many homes in South Florida have 30 feet or less
of back yard facing a canal, this can be very limiting./p>
Larger buffers to address pollutant attenuation are strongly
encouraged, but they are not considered the responsibility of a
landscape worker, who is paid to care for a homeowner’s lawn that is
allowed by local laws to extend to the water’s edge. Rather,
the responsibility for these buffers lies within the land
development code, which may contain riparian buffer requirements of
15 to 150 feet from the edge of the water, depending on soil types,
slope, pollution threat, and other factors. Unfortunately,
many land development codes do not have any buffer requirements and
allow lawns or developed landscapes to extend to the water’s edge.
Q. Why do the Florida Friendly guidelines say to apply only ½ lb.
/1000ft2 of quick release fertilizer, but the state
fertilizer rule allows 0.7 lb./1000ft2?
As of early 2009,
The 2002 BMP manual recommended a maximum application of 0.5
lb.N/1000ft2 as quick-release nitrogen.
Up to 1 lb/1000ft2 total N was permitted if
using at least 30% slow release fertilizer.
However, if 1.0 lb/1000ft2 total nitrogen is
applied using a 30% slow release product, the actual amount of
quick-release N is 0.7 lb/1000ft2.
This trade-off was negotiated in 2001 while developing the Green
Industries BMP manual, in order to promote the use of slow-release
products. By law, BMPs must be feasible. At the time, most of the
products available were 30%-50% slow release. On the other hand, the
label rule is a legal limit. The 0.7 limit in the rule allows the
manufacturer to recommend 1.0 lb/1000ft2 of materials with as little
as 30% in slow release form.
Q. What is the purpose of the 6 foot no-mow zone in the 2003 model
When putting together the original “strawman” ordinance for the
working group, many ordinances and clauses were gathered from all
around the nation. Unfortunately, DEP staff has never found
the original source again. The oldest version we found also
prohibited mowed grass on greater than 4:1 slopes, and it is thought
to have been a mowing safety issue to prevent tipping of mower and
operator into the water. It seemed like a good setback at the
time to act as a “trash catcher”, and nobody on the working group
spoke up to change it or take it out.
Q. Why are the professional manuals less enthusiastic about
promoting slow release fertilizer as compared to the FYN homeowner
Slow release is more forgiving of error in application, but also
more expensive. To an individual, this increased cost is
minor, but to a large company it can mean tens of thousands of
dollars. By law, BMPs must be economically and technically
feasible. The ½ lb-N/1000ft2 limit on quick release
application in the BMP ensures that large amounts are not applied at
one time, which might pose a serious leaching or runoff hazard.
There are times when a shot of quick release is just the thing, such
as recovering from pest damage or wear injury. In general, the
quick vs. slow release decision is left to the professional judgment
of the trained applicator. DEP underwrites and strongly
promotes the BMP training program to help professionals make the
best possible decisions.
Q. What is IPM? (Integrated Pest Management)
Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is the practice of using ALL
of the tools available to reduce pest populations below an
economically viable threshold. IPM uses cultural practices such as
varying planting times or irrigation practices, crop rotation, and
interplanting with plants that are naturally repellent to the pests.
It also requires cultivation of an environment friendly to
beneficial organisms such as the pest's natural enemies, like
parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and birds. It includes the use of disease
and insect resistant varieties of crops, and the use of scouting
before using any active method of pest control. Chemical pesticides
may be used in IPM, but only as really needed to keep pest
populations below the economic threshold, and only after scouting to
actually determine pest populations and their stage of growth. IPM
requires meticulous record keeping to determine the effectiveness of
each practice for future decision making.
Contact your local
Agent or independent crop consultant for more information on IPM
for your needs.
Q. Are golf courses a serious
threat to our environment?
Golf courses are often singled out because they are seen as large
users of pesticides and fertilizer, and large consumers of water for
irrigation. This may or may not be true, depending on the management
of the golf course. While any human development will have some
impact on the environment, steps can be taken to minimize the
adverse impact. Some golf courses have gone so far as to become
urban wildlife sanctuaries.
In the last several years many golf courses have dramatically
reduced their use of pesticides through the use of sophisticated IPM
programs. Use of fertilizers has also been reduced at most golf
courses. Agrichemicals, especially pesticides, are very expensive,
and savings in this area directly impact the maintenance budget of
the golf course. Many golf courses use no water other than the rain,
which collects in the lakes on the course, and others use only
reclaimed water from municipal water reuse facilities.
The homes surrounding the golf courses may be a greater
environmental hazard. Homeowners are often unaware of
or even the basic safe practices to be followed when using
fertilizers and pesticides at home. The result is often improper and
excessive use of these chemicals at rates far higher than used on
the golf course itself. Contact a
Master Gardener with your County
Service for more help in this area. ALWAYS READ AND FOLLOW THE LABEL
INSTRUCTIONS ON PESTICIDES.
In 2007, FDEP published
Best Management Practices for Enhancement of Environmental Quality
on Florida Golf Courses, a 136 page manual on design, operation,
and maintenance. Some of the best environmental management
programs available are the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program For
Golf Courses and the
Audubon Signature Program. These are voluntary programs
developed by the Audubon International in cooperation with the
United States Golf Association.
Q. Are similar Audubon
Cooperative Sanctuary Programs available to schools, businesses, or homeowners?
Yes, Audubon Cooperative
Sanctuary Programs are available
for schools, businesses, and homeowners.
Q. What are cattle dipping
Cattle dipping vats are concrete lined pits in the earth, about 3
or 4 feet wide, 5 feet deep, and 25 feet long. One end has a sharp
drop into the pit, the other end is gently sloped so that the cattle
could walk out. From about 1906 to 1961, about 3,500 of these vats
were built and filled with strong solutions of arsenic, or later,
synthetic pesticides such as DDT and toxaphene. Most of the vats
were required to be built by state law in an attempt to eradicate
the cattle fever tick, and so release the state from a federal
quarantine. State officials supervised the construction and paid for
the vats and the chemicals used in them.
In 1994, the Legislature acknowledged this and released
landowners from the environmental liability associated with owning a
vat. If you have a vat on your property, or know of one nearby, call
your FDEP district office or the FDEP Bureau of Waste Cleanup in
Tallahassee at (850) 245-8927.
Dipping vats may be a serious environmental hazard to people
living or working nearby. The arsenic and other pesticides may have
contaminated the ground water and the soils around the vats, and may
put your family at risk.
Cattle Dipping Vats known to exist in Florida, by
Nonpoint Source Management Program
Division of Water Restoration
3900 Commonwealth Blvd MS 3570
Tallahassee, FL 32399-3000