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Introduction

The 972 Clean Water Act, section 303(d) established federal rules for identifying waters that are polluted and not compliant with their designated uses, usually denominated as impaired water bodies. These rules, passed down khổng lồ the states by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), required lớn establish a prioritized list of impaired water bodies và to develop estimated loads that the water bodies could receive of each pollutant while meeting water quality standards.

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TMDLs are defined as the maximum amount of a pollutant that a water body toàn thân can receive và still meet the water chất lượng standards. Section 303(d) requires states to lớn submit lists of those impaired waters along with their TMDLs on a prioritized schedule.

In response khổng lồ state TMDL requirements, the Florida Watershed Restoration Act (FWRA) (s. 403.067 F.S.) was passed in 1999. This act identified the methods that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) would use to lớn develop & implement TMDLs. Specifically, the FWRA requires that TMDLs be established for all pollutant sources (agriculture và urband).

In addition, FWRA:

directs the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS) to lớn develop Interim Measures and Best Management Practices (BMPs) lớn address agricultural nonpoint pollution sources,provides growers implementing BMPs that are adopted by rule (by FDACS) và verified by FDEP as effective with a "Presumption of Compliance" with applicable state water chất lượng standards,directs FDEP lớn allocate pollutant loads between point, nonpoint, and background sources, andallows cost-share of BMPs, with funds to support the program for agriculture originating from the Florida Forever Act Amendments.

The legislature, through the Florida Right lớn Farm Act (s. 823.14 F.S.), provides that a local government may not adopt any ordinance, regulation, rule, or policy to prohibit, restrict, regulate, or otherwise limit an activity of a bona fide farm operation where growers are utilizing best-management practices or interim measures developed by FDACS.

Florida TMDL Development

Evaluation and development of TMDLs for Florida is a daunting task, with 52,000 miles of rivers and streams, 800 lakes, 700 springs, và 4500 square miles of estuaries. FDEP has developed a five-year rotating plan lớn assess each water toàn thân within the state. The water basins in each of FDEP's six districts have been divided into five groups (Table 1), và the timeline for assessments within each district will be based on the group number (FDEP, 2019).

FDEP has identified these basic steps for the TMDL program.


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Figure 1.  Draft & final TMDL documents are available on the FDEP website (draft TMDLs at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl/draft_tmdl.htm & final TMDLs at http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl/final_tmdl.htm).

BMAPs, which are a comprehensive mix of practices and strategies khổng lồ manage a basin in order to reduce pollutant loads, have been developed & implemented for most of Florida basins. An interactive online bản đồ of BMAPs adopted và in progress is available electronically by FDEP (https://floridadep.gov/dear/water-quality-restoration/content/impaired-waters-tmdls-and-basin-management-action-plans).

While FDEP is responsible for Florida TMDLs, the agricultural nonpoint source pollution portion of the TMDL process is being guided by the Florida Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (FDACS).

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TMDLs & Agricultural Best Management Practices

When a water toàn thân is identified as impaired and a TMDL is established, pollutant loads are distributed among the different stakeholders (e.g., agriculture, urban, industry). Normally, each stakeholder would implement a phối of management practices expected to reduce its contribution lớn meet its designated load. These practices are commonly referred to lớn as Best Management Practices (BMPs) và can be defined as a practice or combination of practices determined by the coordinating agencies, based on research, field-testing, & expert review, to lớn be the most effective và practicable on-location means, including economic và technological considerations, for improving water unique in agricultural & urban discharges.

Agricultural BMP manuals are written by FDACS with the cooperation of UF/baoninhsunrise.com and FDEP and adopted by rule. Selection of BMPs for agriculture is no easy task because of Florida's agriculture diversity and geographical differences. Hence, BMP manuals are commodity and region specific. Some of the areas where BMPs have been developed are: cow/calf operations, citrus, vegetable & agronomic crops, nurseries, equine operations, specialty fruit và nut crops, sod operations, agriculture wildlife, and dairy operations. Although some water bodies bởi vì not have designated TMDLs as of yet and therefore do not legally require BMPs, many agricultural producers have adopted và implemented the BMPs.

UF/baoninhsunrise.com is actively involved in the BMP process, including BMP research, development, and education. Extension agents và UF/baoninhsunrise.com state specialists play a critical role in the adoption of BMPs by educating agricultural producers in the need lớn implement BMPs as well as in their proper use once implemented. For more information on the involvement of UF/baoninhsunrise.com in BMPs & our role in Florida's BMP program, see the UF/baoninhsunrise.com Best Management Practices trang web (http://bmp.baoninhsunrise.com.ufl.edu/).

The primary benefit for growers implementing agricultural BMPs (even without a designated TMDL) is that if a BMP program is in place, an agricultural producer is considered khổng lồ be operating under a Presumption of Compliance with water chất lượng standards. Preventative actions have a double purpose for growers, reduction of environmental impact và increase of crop management efficiency.

BMP implementation is different if a TMDL has already been established for a particular basin. Pursuant to Section 403.067(7)(b)2(g) of Florida law, a nonpoint source discharger included in a basin management kích hoạt plan shall demonstrate compliance with the pollutant reductions established pursuant to lớn subsection (6) by either implementing the appropriate best management practices established pursuant lớn paragraph (c) or conducting water chất lượng monitoring prescribed by the department or a water management district. This means that if a TMDL has been established for a basin, agricultural producers are required khổng lồ either implement a BMP plan or they must conduct water unique monitoring lớn prove discharges meet state water unique standards.

Adopting a BMP Program

Agricultural producers interested in formally adopting a BMP program should follow several important steps. If you have questions about this process, liên hệ your local UF/baoninhsunrise.com Extension office or FDACS OAWP.

Contact the FDACS OAWP staff member for your county khổng lồ coordinate a miễn phí assessment of the property khổng lồ determine which BMPs are applicable. Tương tác information for the person assigned lớn each county is available on the FDACS OAWP website.Complete the BMP checklist and sign the Notice of Intent (NOI) khổng lồ implement BMPs.Keep a copy of the checklist and signed NOI in your records.Implement and maintain the applicable BMPs & keep adequate records lớn maintain a presumption of compliance with state water unique standards.

References

DeBusk, W. F. 2001. Overview of the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) Program. SL188. Gainesville: University of Florida Institute of Food và Agricultural Sciences.

FDEP (Florida Department of Environmental Protection). 2019. Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) Program. Accessed at https://floridadep.gov/dear/water-quality-evaluation-tmdl/content/total-maximum-daily-loads-tmdl-program.