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Florida DEP to hold public meetings on water quality assessments

Basin assessments identify waters not attaining water quality standards

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Beginning Jan. 20, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will kick off a series of five meetings around Florida to take public input on the draft assessment lists for the Group 3 basins. The meetings will be held in Sarasota, Palm Bay, Boynton Beach, Fort Myers and Panama City.

“Because our programs can’t succeed without stakeholder cooperation and action, we are committed to taking advantage of local perspectives and priorities to better inform our watershed work plans,” said Tom Frick, director of DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration.

To restore and protect Florida’s surface waters, the department collects water-quality data through its own monitoring programs and with the help of other agencies. The department uses this data to assess approximately 20 percent of Florida’s watersheds each year to identify waterbodies that do not meet water-quality standards (“impaired waters”), which are then placed on a “Verified List” to guide restoration priorities. Other potentially impaired waters, where more data is needed, are listed for further investigation. The upcoming meetings will provide an opportunity for the department to present these assessment lists and findings for the Group 3 basins.

At the public meetings, department staff will explain the results of draft basin-specific assessments for waters in the Choctawhatchee - St. Andrews, Sarasota Bay – Peace – Myakka, Upper St. Johns, Lake Worth Lagoon – Palm Beach Coast, and Caloosahatchee basins.

For each impaired waterbody or group of related waters, the department develops and adopts a scientifically derived restoration target, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load. Based on the target, a restoration plan is implemented to return the waterbody to health.

A complete list of workshop dates and locations can be found at the link below.