By MARK THOMASSON, P.E. ,
Chief Stormwater Engineer,
National Stormwater Trust
The engineering landscape in Florida is about to experience a significant transformation with the impending implementation of new regulations aimed at safeguarding water quality. The Clean Waterways Act, passed by the Florida Legislature in 2020, is bringing about a wave of changes in Florida stormwater management regulations, requiring developers and engineers to incorporate enhanced standards to protect the State’s water resources.
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and water management districts (WMDs) have been hard at work crafting updates to stormwater design and operation regulations for environmental resource permitting, as directed by the Clean Waterways Act. This comprehensive effort to develop a rule has involved collaboration, technical analysis, and careful consideration.
The latest version of the proposed rule is long and complex, including revisions to Chapter 62-330, Florida Administrative Code, and the incorporated Applicants Handbook I, effective statewide, and the respective Applicant’s Handbook II for each WMD. Most of the rule remains unchanged. However, significant changes are proposed that will affect the design, construction, and operation of stormwater treatment facilities.
Implications of New Florida Stormwater Regulations for the Engineering Community
The rule’s comprehensive nature means that adjustments will be necessary in the design, construction, and operation of stormwater treatment facilities. This could result in increased facility sizes, up to two to three times larger utilizing conventional designs, posing challenges for development in many locations.
As a response to this, forward-looking developers and design professionals already are incorporating innovative solutions such as off-site treatment strategies and advanced treatment technologies, like Smart Ponds.
In conclusion, Florida’s commitment to water quality is ushering in a new era of stormwater management regulations, and the Florida Legislature’s ratification of the new rule is anticipated during the 2024 legislative session. With the rule likely becoming effective on July 1, 2024, the engineering community is advised to stay updated on these changes and explore innovative approaches that align with the new stormwater management rules. In doing so, we contribute to the protection of Florida’s invaluable surface and groundwater ecosystems.