Water-Related News

SFWMD water managers ponder loss of wetlands

WEST PALM BEACH — The continued loss of South Florida’s wetlands was the topic of discussion at the April 8 South Florida Water Management District workshop. While the commissioners had different ideas on how to solve the problem, they seemed to agree on one point: What the state is doing now, is not working.

Ricardo Valera, SFWMD bureau chief, said the Environmental Resource Permitting (ERP) process was first adopted in 1972 as Surface Water Management (SWM) permitting. In 1995 ERP replaced SWM. In 2013, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was tasked to lead, development and implement ERP rules statewide in partnership with water management districts.

He said DEP handles development of single-family homes if they have wetland impact. SFWMD takes the lead for developments of four or more homes.

He said developments permitted after 1995 were designed with stormwater treatment requirements. Prior to that the focus was on flood protection. Once the systems are permitted, there is a “presumption of compliance.”

He said the Blue Green Algae Task Force has recommended a stormwater inspection and monitoring program to identify improperly functioning systems so that correction action can be taken to reduce nutrient pollution. The task force also recommended revising and updating stormwater treatment design to include advances in technologies.

Senate Bill 712 also addresses stormwater design.