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Environmental Resource Permitting (ERP) and Sovereign Submerged Lands (SSL) Rules

Environmental Resource Permitting Program
Instructions for Joint Application (Attachment 5): Proprietary Versus Regulatory Authority

Prior to the merger into the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), the Department of Environmental Regulation had regulatory jurisdiction over certain activities affecting air, water, and land. The Department of Natural Resources had proprietary jurisdiction over uses of sovereign submerged lands. The following explains the proprietary and regulatory functions of DEP's Submerged Lands and Environmental Resources Program.

The word regulatory refers to a type of authority that allows an entity of the government, such as DEP, to limit certain activities on your property, as well as on publicly owned lands, to some specific degree for the greater public good. DEP, in its regulatory capacity, is required by acts of the Florida Legislature, to protect the natural resources of the state, such as air, water and wildlife, to insure that these resources will be healthy and abundant for present and future generations. DEP's Submerged Lands and Environmental Resources Program reviews applications for proposed works in wetlands and other surface waters, as well as works in uplands that can affect water quality and quantity, to ensure compliance with the Florida Administrative Code and Florida Statutes.

Over a century ago, the Governor and Cabinet, as the Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund of the State of Florida (Trustees), were designated by the state legislature as the Trustees of sovereign submerged lands. All tidally influenced waters to the mean high water line and navigable fresh waterbodies to the ordinary high water line in existence when Florida became a state in 1845 are considered sovereign. In accordance with the Constitution of the State of Florida, these lands are held in trust by the state for all the people. As the Trustees, the Governor and Cabinet have proprietary (ownership) authority over sovereign submerged lands and their uses and are responsible for insuring that these lands and the associated aquatic resources remain healthy and in abundance for present and future generations.

The Department of Environmental Protection, in addition to its regulatory capacity, acts as the staff to the Trustees in the review of proposed uses of sovereign submerged lands. If you are proposing to conduct an activity in waters that are not sovereign submerged lands, you will only be required to meet regulatory standards. If your proposed activity is located on sovereign submerged lands, you may be required to meet both regulatory and proprietary requirements as found in the Florida Statutes and Florida Administrative Code.

Last updated: June 30, 2015

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