Since 1982, the State of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (formerly the Department of Environmental Regulation) has regulated the quality of stormwater discharged from new developments. By delegating responsibility for water quality permitting to the State’s five Water Management Districts, the FDEP has enabled itself to continue monitoring and refining Florida’s water quality treatment rules. As a result of the 2020 legislative session, Senate Bill 712 (also known as Stormwater 2020) was passed requiring the State to revisit the Statewide Stormwater Rule, to identify its successes and shortcomings, and provide recommendations for further improvement of the water quality within Florida’s natural ecosystems.
Concurrent to the water quality rules and regulations, statewide water quality monitoring and assessments of most watersheds in Florida have been conducted and are on a four- to five-year cycle for review and update. One of the purposes of the water basin assessments was to identify water basins with high concentrations of total nitrogen (TN) and total phosphorus (TP) designate them as “impaired”. In response to the impaired designation of water basins, the Water Management Districts adopted specific criteria intended to produce a net improvement to the TN and TP load discharged. Local stakeholders (municipalities and other agencies) have taken on the responsibility of developing Best Management Action Plans (BMAPs) to reduce the Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) of TN and TP being discharged into jurisdictional wetlands and Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS).
The design, permitting and construction of the Leesburg-Lake Harris Regional Stormwater Facility is the culmination of cooperative efforts by the Florida Department of Transportation, the City of Leesburg, the St. Johns River Water Management District and the Lake County Water Authority to improve the water quality within Lake Harris, a designated impaired water body. Lake Harris is part of the Ocklawaha River Watershed BMAP. The Leesburg-Lake Harris Regional Stormwater Facility project provides significant reductions of TN, TP, sediment, trash and debris for a 500-acre contributing drainage basin. A portion of the nutrient reduction will be credited back to FDOT via an Environmental Resource Permit (ERP), enabling them to widen a segment of State Road 19 which discharges to Lake Harris. The remainder will be counted as gain for the Ocklawaha BMAP.
B&N’s Mike Mills, PE will be joined by FDOT District 5 Drainage Design Engineer, Ferrell Hickson, PE for this virtual session.