The Clean Waterways Act: What does it mean for Stormwater Regulations in Florida?

On June 30, 2020, Governor Ron DeSantis signed the Clean Waterways Act (SB 712), a historic step to protect and improve Florida’s water quality. The legislation has many avenues for improving various water quality issues regarding septic systems, wastewater treatment, agriculture, biosolids, golf courses, and stormwater. The Environmental Resource Permitting (ERP) program is focusing on the stormwater rulemaking aspect of the legislation.  

Following the implementation of the Clean Waterways Act, Section 373.4131, Florida Statutes (F.S.), requires that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and water management districts (WMDs) throughout Florida update stormwater design and operation regulations.  This includes updates to the ERP Applicant’s Handbook, taking into consideration the most recent scientific information available. Utilizing this information, the FDEP will consider low-impact design Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will effectively increase the removal of nutrients from stormwater discharges, ultimately reducing the pollutant load to our waterbodies.

Additional tasks the FDEP will evaluate over time include reviewing compliance with stormwater quality standards of 10-2 general permit self-certifications, and recommendations on how to improve the 10-2 general permit process. Another task that will improve designs, maintenance, and controls of stormwater systems is staff training for field inspections—which should help ensure compliance of stormwater infrastructures. Any updates regarding stormwater rules will be incorporated into the existing 10-2 general permit criteria.

The State of Florida has received public recommendations through various webinars, organizations, and interest groups, in addition to the tasks the FDEP has outlined. Most of the recommendations focus primarily on the development and approval of high-tech BMPs, establishing statewide consistency, and requiring higher standards for nutrient removal.

Actions resulting in violations of a 10-2 general permit include, but are not limited to:  

  • absence of a stormwater pond
  • lack of appropriately sized stormwater pond
  • a project area greater than 10 acres
  • a project comprising part of a larger plan
  • wetland or surface water impacts
  • incorrect self-certification
  • insufficient degree of BMPs
  • lack of required permits.  

Various improvements to the 10-2 general permit have been recommended to reduce the number of compliance violations. These include:

  • requiring submittal 30 days prior to construction
  • requiring submittal of engineering plans
  • an increase in inspections during and after construction
  • proof of construction completion certification
  • prohibited use of the general permit in impaired watersheds
  • improving Geographic Information Systems (GIS).  

The public should be aware of these changes to avoid violation letters—which can result in monetary fines and enforcement.  

The Clean Waterways Act is another step in the fight to ensure the protection and improvement of Florida’s water quality. Based on the changes to stormwater regulations (and an increased emphasis on clean waterways), closer enforcement is expected. Please contact us at (888) 368-6468 or and let us know if you have any questions regarding how the implementation of the Clean Waterways Act impacts your operation.