| Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Hears Water Updates|
|At the meeting of the Senate Committee on Environment and Natural Resources chaired by Senator Jason Brodeur (R-Lake Mary) on Monday, February 1, the Department of Environmental Protection presented a status update on their Biosolids and Central Florida Water Initiative (CFWI) Rulemaking. |
Remember, legislative ratification of a rule is required when the costs of the rule exceed $1 million over a five-year period, so after DEP completes rulemaking, a two-step process remains before the rule can be implemented: Approval by the Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC) and ratification by the Legislature.
Florida DEP initiated rule development for biosolids regulation, consistent with requirements of the Clean Waterways Act passed in 2020. The proposed state revisions include increased monitoring and stricter reporting requirements in nutrient management plans required for all land application sites. New application rates rely on soil testing to determine soil deficiencies and crop needs to reduce nutrients from migrating offsite. While application rates are now lower than before, these rates are still much higher than recommended agronomic rates allowing for run-off into surrounding waterbodies.
In 2006, the three Water Management Districts (WMDs) located in central Florida (St. Johns River, South Florida, and Southwest Florida) realized that their water resources, especially groundwater, crossed the WMD borders and that their combined regional groundwater could no longer meet growing water needs. They formed the Central Florida Coordination Area, which includes Seminole, Orange, Osceola, Polk, and southern Lake Counties, to cooperatively plan for their future water supply under the auspices of the CFWI. Regulations were adopted to limit groundwater withdrawals and to set rules for the region’s water resources and use.
DEP initiated rulemaking in 2016 and after a lengthy public process published its proposed rule in November 2020.
The next step in the process is for both these rules to be scheduled for discussion and possible approval at the next Environmental Regulation Commission meeting.