Commissioner Nelson sent out a follow up email to the meeting BMAP meeting held on Tuesday, April 3, 2018, with answers to commonly asked questions. I am passing them on below.
FLORIDA SPRINGS AND AQUIFER PROTECTION ACT:
In 2016, the Florida Legislature passed the Florida Springs and Aquifer Protection Act to protect and restore the 24 first magnitude springs, 6 additional named springs, and their associated spring runs. The law requires the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to assess the springs and determine the level of impairment. This is done by assessing what is known as the total maximum daily load (TMDL). TMDL is the total amount of a pollutant that a water body can assimilate while still meeting water quality standards. For each spring, there is an established TMDL. In addition, each spring has a plan to achieve the required pollutant load reductions to meet the TMDL. This plan is called a Basin Management Action Plan or BMAP for short. The BMAP provides strategies to reduce the amount of pollutants impairing the water body. The legislation requires that the TMDL must be achieved in 20 years with a phased implementation schedule of 5, 10 and 15-year targets. The BMAP for our area is known as the Wekiva River, Rock Springs Run, and Little Wekiva Canal BMAP.
As previously mentioned, the springs protection act mandates that the impaired springs achieve a certain TMDL in twenty years. As such DEP must create or revise BMAPs for each spring to achieve this goal. DEP is currently revising the Wekiva BMAP and plans to have a draft copy ready sometime in May. The deadline for all BMAPS to be in final form is July 2018. The BMAP includes: identification of pollutants affecting the water body; a list of projects to reduce the pollutants as well as the costs associated with the projects and the amount of pollutant reduction achieved by the projects; a boundary area called the primary focus area (PFA) where the plan takes effect; an onsite sewage treatment and disposal system (OSTDS) remediation plan if septic tanks contribute at least 20% of the nitrogen pollution within a PFA; any financial assistance available to achieve the goals and best management practices.
NITROGEN REDUCTION REQUIREMENTS:
Each BMAP will list what the required nitrogen reduction must be in order to meet the TMDL. At this time, the estimated nitrogen reduction for the Wekiva BMAP is approximately 209,428 pounds. There is to be 30% reduction in five years, another 50% reduction by year-10, another 20% reduction by year-15 for a total of 100% reduction by year-20.
As part of the BMAP process, steps must be taken to reduce the amount of nitrogen entering the impaired water bodies. The predominant areas examined to achieve this goal are septic systems, fertilizers, and waste water treatment facilities. If septic systems contribute 20% or more of the nitrogen loading into the springs, a OSTDS remediation plan is necessary. The Florida Department of Health regulates OSTDS or septic tanks and is the entity responsible for the remediation plan in conjunction with DEP. For the Wekiva BMAP, the remediation plan applies to new or existing septic tanks in the PFA on lots less than an acre. DOH is in the process of revising their rules and we are waiting to see what type of septic systems will be required as a result. Portions of Lake, Seminole, and Orange Counties, including all of Apopka, are in the Wekiva PFA and will be affected by this remediation plan.
WHERE WE ARE IN THE PROCESS:
DEP and DOH will mandate what the BMAP and OSTDS remediation will be. The unfunded mandate put forward by the State could cost hundreds of millions of dollars to try to meet these aggressive reductions and the cost will fall to local governments. Cities and counties impacted by these regulations will be responsible for determining projects to reduce the nitrogen loading into the springs and how to pay for it. At the time of the community meeting, the state still has not completed the final plans for the Wekiva area. As soon as it is available, my office can send you a copy. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org for any assistance.
The Board will continue to pass on information as we receive it.