Surface Water Quality Monitoring
A Total Maximum Daily Load is a scientific determination of the maximum amount of a given pollutant that a surface water can absorb and still meet the water quality standards that protect human health and aquatic life. Water bodies that do not meet water quality standards are identified as "impaired" for the particular pollutants of concern--nutrients, bacteria, mercury, etc.--and TMDLs must be developed, adopted and implemented for those pollutants to reduce pollutants and clean up the water body.
The threshold limits on pollutants in surface waters--Florida's surface water quality standards on which TMDLs are based--are set forth primarily in rule 62-302, Florida Administrative Code, and the associated table of water quality criteria.
Escambia County is mandated to follow the procedure below, when impairments are indicated:
- Assess the quality of surface waters--are they meeting water quality standards? (Surface Water Quality Standards - Chapter 62-302)
- Determine which waters are impaired--that is, which ones are not meeting water quality standards for a particular pollutant or pollutants. (Impaired Waters Rule (IWR) - Chapter 62-303)
- Establish and adopt, by rule, a TMDL for each impaired water for the pollutants of concern--the ones causing the water quality problems. (TMDLs - Chapter 62-304)
- Develop, with extensive local stakeholder input, Basin Management Action Plans that....
- Implement the strategies and actions in the BMAP.
- Measure the effectiveness of the BMAP, both continuously at the local level and through a formal re-evaluation every five years.
- Adapt--change the plan and change the actions if things aren't working.
- Reassess the quality of surface waters continuously.
BMAPs are established through a prioritization of impaired water bodies. These impaired waters are then referred as Section 303(d) listed water bodies. Pollutants are assessed and determined which are beyond the assimilative capacity/ecological function of the water body. TMDLs are then established for each impairment and set as regulatory standards for corrective action.
BMAPs are the "blueprint" for restoring impaired waters by reducing pollutant loadings to meet the allowable loadings established in a TMDL. It represents a comprehensive set of strategies -- permit limits on wastewater facilities, urban and agricultural best management practices, conservation programs, financial assistance and revenue generating activities, etc. -- designed to implement the pollutant reductions established by the TMDL. These broad-based plans are developed with local stakeholders -- they rely on local input and local commitment -- and they are adopted by Secretarial Order to be enforceable.