Last month, Waterkeepers Florida met with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) regarding its upcoming triennial review of water quality standards. In addition to this meeting, Waterkeepers Florida wrote a letter to the FDEP requesting three additional workshops to increase public involvement for the triennial review process.
States are required under the Clean Water Act to conduct a comprehensive review once every three years of all water quality standards. This review is called a Triennial Review and FDEP's Water Quality Standards Program (WQSP) is responsible for this process. This requirement calls for a review of water quality standards in Chapter 62-4, Chapter 62-302 (Surface Water Quality Standards), Chapter 62-303 (Impaired Waters Rule), and Chapter 62-304 (Total Maximum Daily Loads), Florida Administrative Code. At least one public hearing must be conducted during the Triennial Review to receive public input on suggested changes to water quality standards.
Waterkeepers Florida expressed concern that Florida is at a tipping point at which red tide, blue-green algae, and brown algae may become a regularly occurring impediment to economic development and tourism, as well as a pervasive threat to public health. We are committed in the public's involvement in this process and believed that limiting public hearings to only three locations would leave the people of Florida unable to engage with the FDEP about water quality issues. Waterkeepers Florida proposed an additional three locations for public meetings in Fort Myers, Miami, and Jacksonville. You can read the entire letter to the Director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration, Tom Frick, here.
We are happy to report that FDEP agreed to hold additional workshops this summer! Waterkeepers Florida is committed to public involvement in this process and we will be posting updates about how our communities can get involved.