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Suwannee River Florida Water Plan

Chapter 373.036, Florida Statutes and Chapter 62-40.510, Florida Administrative Code require the Department to develop a Florida Water Plan containing these elements:

  • Goals, objectives, and guidance for the development and review of programs, rules, and plans relating to water resources, based on statutory policies and directives;
  • Programs and activities of the department related to water supply, water quality, flood protection and floodplain management, and natural systems;
  • Water quality standards of the department;
  • District water management plans or strategic plans.

The Florida Water Plan, presented below, provides this information in web-format. DEP’s Office of Water Policy is responsible for producing this plan and updating it annually.





Water Resource Implementation Rule

Chapter 62-40, F.A.C., known as the “Water Resource Implementation Rule,” provides goals, objectives and guidance for the development and review of water resource-related programs, rules, and plans as required by the statute. DEP’s Office of Water Policy is responsible for adopting amendments to this rule, based on statutory policies and directives.

Florida’s five water management districts (WMDs) are responsible for adopting their own individual rules that are consistent with Chapter 62-40, F.A.C. DEP’s Office of Water Policy reviews new and amended WMD rules to ensure that they are consistent with the policies expressed in DEP’s rule. In addition, the Department provides guidance to the districts in WMD Policy Documents.

Water Irrigation SystemWater Programs and Activities

Both DEP and the water management districts conduct water resource protection programs and activities that complement each other in four areas of responsibility:

  • Water Supply involves providing sufficient water for both people and the environment. For most Floridians, potable water comes from underground aquifers, and these sources are becoming increasingly limited. DEP has three major water supply programs:
    • Source and Drinking Water Program – This program regulates public water systems in Florida.
    • State Revolving Fund – This program provides low-interest loans to eligible entities for planning, designing, and constructing public water facilities.
    • Water Reuse Program – This program actively promotes the reuse of reclaimed water. Using reclaimed water stretches Florida’s potable water supplies by reusing highly treated wastewater for non-potable purposes, such as landscape irrigation.
    The water management districts implement their water supply responsibilities through their water supply planning, water use permitting, and water conservation programs. The districts also provide funding assistance for water supply projects. These projects help create additional water supplies in areas where water resources are limited. Information on alternative water supply (nontraditional water sources) programs can be found in each district’s Consolidated Annual Report and information on cooperative funding opportunities can be found on most district websites
  • Water Quality addresses the suitability of water for a particular use based on selected physical, chemical, and biological characteristics. Federal and state guidelines set water quality standards based on the water's intended use, whether it is for recreation, fishing, drinking, navigation, shellfish harvesting, or agriculture. Monitoring, improving, and maintaining the quality of Florida’s waters is essential to sustaining the quality of life that Floridians enjoy. The Department has a number of water quality-related programs:
    • Watershed Management Program – This program is responsible for the implementation of a wide variety of smaller programs that help protect, manage, or restore Florida’s surface and ground waters. Working with state and local agencies, the private sector, and citizens, the program coordinates the collection, interpretation, and management of water quality data; develops watershed-based aquatic resource goals and pollutant loading limits for individual water bodies; and develops and implements management action plans to preserve or restore water bodies.
    • Stormwater Programs –  These programs involve both managing stormwater and regulating activities that alter surface water flows. The programs include NPDES stormwater permitting, nonpoint source management, and environmental resource permitting.
    • Wastewater Program – This program regulates the billions of gallons of wastewater produced in Florida each day that are discharged to surface and ground waters. DEP’s wastewater program is responsible for developing statewide policy and for permitting, compliance, and enforcement of both domestic and industrial wastewater treatment facilities and their discharges.
    • Ground Water Program – Responsibility for ground water is distributed throughout DEP, but ground water quality on a regional scale is addressed in two programs. The Ground Water Management Program is responsible for evaluating and addressing ground water resources that adversely affect surface water quality as part of the Department’s Watershed Management Program. The Aquifer Protection Program prevents ground water contamination through several regulatory programs including underground injection control, ground water protection, well construction and permitting, wellhead protection, and source water assessment and protection.
    • Water Quality Standards Program – This program administers the Department’s quality assurance and water quality standards programs, and provides technical support in the ecological aspects of water quality science to other DEP programs.
    The water management districts also have water quality protection and restoration responsibilities. District water quality monitoring programs involve the collection, interpretation, and management of water quality data within their jurisdictions. These data are available to other agencies and the public. District programs that focus on water quality improvement include regulating stormwater runoff from land development, using stormwater treatment areas to remove excess nutrients and other pollutants, implementing various other stormwater improvement projects, restoring habitats that naturally filter water, plugging abandoned wells, and administering well construction programs.

  • Flood Management involves both flood protection and floodplain management. The water management districts have the primary responsibility for flood management. Flood protection involves preventing damage from flooding. Some areas of the state are protected from flooding by WMD-operated control structures such as locks, spillways, pump stations, levees, and canals. In other areas, the flood storage capacity of natural floodplains is protected. Floodplain Management involves not only preventing damage from flooding, but also preserving and restoring the beneficial values of natural floodplains such as fish and wildlife habitat, nutrient absorption, and water storage.
  • Aerial view Lake HancockNatural Systems Protection involves preserving, protecting and restoring water-dependent natural systems such as lakes, streams, wetlands, marshes, floodplains, and estuaries. These systems provide fish and wildlife habitat, natural flood control, water quality improvement, climate moderation, erosion control, recreation, and scenic value. DEP’s management activities include land acquisition and restoration; regulation of dredging, filling and other land alterations; and regulation of mining activities, among others. DEP has several natural systems-related programs:
    • Beaches and Coastal Systems – This bureau conducts activities affecting Florida’s beach and coastal systems and sovereign submerged lands. Activities include restoring and managing critically eroded beaches, safeguarding beach and dune systems from imprudent development, and determining shoreline conditions and trends.
    • Everglades Restoration – The Office of Ecosystem Projects plays a key role in carrying out the largest environmental restoration project in the world – restoring America’s Everglades. The office implements DEP’s policy, programmatic, and regulatory responsibilities under the Everglades Forever Act, the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program, and other related efforts.
    • Submerged Lands and Environmental Resources Coordination Program – This program addresses dredging, filling and construction in wetlands. The Office also ensures that activities in uplands, wetlands or other surface waters do not degrade water quality or the habitat for wetland dependant wildlife.
    • Florida Coastal Office – This office manages 41 aquatic preserves and, in coordination with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, three National Estuarine Research Reserves and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
    • Mining, Mitigation and Delineation – This program includes coordination of the different entities responsible for dam safety in Florida, as well as protection of water resources during mining and while reclaiming mined lands.
    Complementing these DEP programs, each water management district implements a Minimum Flows and Levels (MFLs) Program to ensure that water withdrawals for human use do not adversely affect Florida’s water-dependent natural systems. Districts adopt MFLs for aquifers, lakes, rivers, estuaries, springs, and wetlands. They apply MFLs in their water use permitting programs to ensure that withdrawals do not cause significant harm to water resources or the environment.

Water Quality Standards

The Department uses water quality standards to measure and protect the conditions and characteristics of Florida’s waters. DEP’s Division of Water Resource Management and Division of Environmental Assessment & Restoration establish the technical basis for setting the state’s surface water quality standards and ground water quality standards.

District Water Management Plans/Strategic Plans

As initially developed, District Water Management Plans (DWMPs) were long-term plans encompassing all programs within a water management district’s four areas of responsibility. Typically, these plans covered a 20-year planning period. In recent years, the water management districts moved to a more operational planning approach by using strategic plans, rather than DWMPs, to manage their programs. District Strategic Plans cover a shorter time period, typically three to five years, and are directly linked to a water management district’s budget. Because they cover a shorter time period, strategic plans provide more flexibility in responding to changing environmental and economic conditions within a district.

Last updated: February 17, 2015