Putnam and the Department of Agriculture was the Driver of the Bad “Water Bill” in 2015 and 2016

1. 2015 Water Bill (HB 7003) –

  • Effectively eliminated the District’s permitting program north of the lake, choosing to have the Dept. of Agriculture BMP program be the sole means of controlling P north of the lake. See lines 504-507 (deleting the definition of the District’s WOD Program from NEEPP); line 898 (striking the District’s WOD Program and inserting BMAP); lines 1118-1123 (requiring SFWMD to revise 40E-61, the District’s WOD Program for north of the lake, “to be consistent with this section” (i.e., not applicable to ag north of the lake)); line 1703 (striking 40E-61).
  • Reduced opportunities to limit loading going into Lake Okeechobee. See lines 729-745 (changing review from every 3 years to every 5 years).
  • Eliminates oversight of Dept. of Agriculture BMPs and weakens existing law. See lines 911-918 (deletes the requirement to consult with other coordinating agencies and affected parties when conducting a reevaluation of ag BMPs (403.067(c)(4) requires Dept. of Agriculture consult with just FDEP); pre-existing language required both a reevaluation of the Dept. of Agriculture BMPs and changes to the Dept. of Agriculture BMP rules whenever water quality problems were detected by ag non-point sources despite appropriate implementation of Dept. of Agriculture BMPs; changed to require reevaluation “pursuant to s. 403.067(c)(4),” which only requires rule amendments if the reevaluation conducted by FDACS determines modifications are required).
  • Eliminated permitting requirements for structures that discharge to and from Lake Okeechobee. The pre-existing law required that these structures obtain a permit under NEEPP with conditions to ensure discharges through the structures were adequately and accurately monitored, would not degrade Lake O water quality, would “result in an overall reduction of phosphorus input into” Lake O, as set forth in the District’s Phase 2 Technical Plan and the Lake O TMDL, and “do not pose a serious danger to public health, safety, or welfare.”
  • All of this language was deleted. See lines 1664-1703.
  • Extended the deadline for meeting the Lake O TMDL indefinitely. Pre-existing law required SFWMD to apply to FDEP for a permit that would “incorporate proposed changes necessary to ensure that discharges through structures covered by [the NEEPP] permit achieve state water quality standards, including the [TMDL]” and “[t]hese changes shall be designed to achieve such compliance with state water quality standards no later than January 1, 2015.”  This language was amended to only require SFWMD to get a permit that ensures the discharges “are consistent with the [BMAP],” and while they struck the January 1, 2015 deadline for meeting water quality standards in Lake O, no new was put in place.  See lines 1703-1713.

2. 2016 Water Bill (HB 7005/SB 552) –

  • Includes same things as 2015 Water Bill, but the Senate did put some additional protections in place. See lines 2351-2358 (requiring FDACS to annually report on the status of ag BMP implementation and its implementation assurance reports); lines 3693-3698 and 3700-3704 (created Fla. Stat. § 403.067(7)(d) requiring Dept. of Agriculture to adopt by rule procedures to verify implementation of ag BMPs and requiring such rules to include enforcement procedures).

3. Department of Agriculture’s Implementation of Fla. Stat. § 403.067(7)(d) – Rule 5M-1.008 (Implementation Verification) and Rule 5M-1.009 (BMP Implementation Assistance)

  • Instead of adopting a rule that included enforcement procedures, Dept. of Agriculture adopted rules that provide BMP implementation assistance and transfers enforcement over to FDEP. See Rule 5M-1.009 (describing the BMP “implementation assistance” Dept. of Agriculture will give enrollees, which states FDACS will work in cooperation with the producer to identify corrective measures to achieve full implementation of BMPs that “include setting of expectations for the time required to complete them” (i.e., no enforceable deadlines); if the producer does not implement the corrective measures, Dept. of Agriculture “will work in cooperation with the Producer and Landowner, if the Producer is not the Landowner, to identify remedial measures to be taken by the Producer and, if necessary, the Landowner to achieve full implementation of Applicable BMPs” that “include setting of expectations for the time required to complete them” (i.e., no enforceable deadlines); if they don’t implement the remedial measures, Dept. of Agriculture “will notify DEP within 60 days after the date of scheduled completion of remedial measures identified pursuant to paragraph (1)(b), of any Enrolled Producer or Landowner that refuses or fails to implement Applicable BMPs”).  The referral to FDEP starts a new clock for enforcement.
  • Remember, these are people who are already enrolled in the Dept. of Agriculture program saying they are currently implementing certain BMPs.  Dept. of Agriculture gives them two bites at the apple to do what they are already supposed to be doing, and instead of instituting their own enforcement procedures, they kick it over to FDEP to enforce if the person isn’t doing BMPs, and FDEP has to start from square one with an enforcement proceeding.
  • Lake Okeechobee loading does not seem to be improving under Putnam’s/ Dept. of Agriculture BMP program. To see current and historical loads going into Lake Okeechobee, see Chart 8B-3, p. 8B-15. For land use, see Chart 8B-1, p. 8B-10.  For a comparison of land uses between 2009 and 2014, see Chart 8B-2, p. 8B-11. To see where the loads are coming from, see Chart 8B-5, p. 8B-17.

Subscribe News Donate
Facebook Twitter Instagram