animation of water quality restoration strategies
Regulatory Source Control Programs and Best Management Practices
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To improve water quality in South Florida's watersheds, ecosystem restoration strategies generally utilize a series of pollution control technologies in a "treatment train" to meet defined water quality goals (as pictured in the animation above). Source controls are the first step in this process, targeting pollutants – specifically, nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen – at their source to minimize the amount generated and prevent them from entering waterways.

The Florida Legislature has established source control program requirements for the Southern Everglades through the Everglades Forever Act and for the Northern Everglades as part of the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program. The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Florida Department of Agricultural Services (FDACS) coordinate complementary source control programs in these ecosystems.

Cost-Effective Measures

Source control programs implemented in South Florida by the coordinating agencies include both voluntary/incentive-based and mandatory Best Management Practices (BMPs). BMPs are practical, cost-effective actions that can be implemented across various land uses – such as agricultural and urban areas – to reduce pollutant levels.

Like other pollution control technologies, BMPs have a maximum achievable water quality benefit. In most cases, construction of sub-regional and regional stormwater treatment projects is needed downstream to fully meet the water quality goals for an ecosystem. Successful source control programs limit the excess pollutants that must be captured downstream, decreasing the investment required for stormwater treatment projects and improving their effectiveness.

Point vs. Nonpoint Sources

Source control programs are designed to address two different sources of pollution: point sources and nonpoint sources. Point sources discharge pollutants into a watershed from specific single sources, such as pipes. Nonpoint sources are spread over large areas and are transported into waterways by stormwater runoff.

DEP is responsible for regulating point sources throughout Florida, while SFWMD, FDACS and DEP programs address nonpoint sources in the Southern and Northern Everglades.

Successful source control programs have seven essential components:
  • Comprehensive BMP plans
  • Deadlines for BMP implementation
  • Field verification of BMP implementation
  • Water quality monitoring
  • Performance metrics
  • Research and demonstration projects to improve BMPs
  • Cost-effective implementation
Implementation of Regulatory Source Control Programs

As directed by the Everglades Forever Act, the District has established mandatory nonpoint source controls in the Lake Okeechobee Watershed and the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) and C-139 basins through the regulatory Works of the District BMP permitting programs. As part of the Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program, the District must also develop regulatory programs for an expanded Lake Okeechobee Watershed and the Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River watersheds to complement FDACS's existing voluntary/incentive-based BMP program. More information regarding current regulatory program development may be found on the District's Rules, Statutes and Criteria website.

The District's Regulatory Source Control BMP programs include performance metrics and BMP implementation verification to ensure that collective source controls are implemented consistently, pollutant reductions are measured accurately and improvements are implemented if water quality goals are not met. Additionally, the programs include research and demonstration projects to improve the selection, design criteria and implementation of BMPs.

Southern Everglades Source Controls
The Southern Everglades Source Control BMP program is one of several strategies to achieve water quality standards in the Everglades Protection Area, which consists of the three Everglades Water Conservation Areas and Everglades National Park. The program includes implementation of phosphorus reduction BMPs and regulatory, voluntary and educational programs as well as integration of state, local and regional water quality projects.
For the EAA and C-139 basins, the Everglades Forever Act mandates a nonpoint regulatory source control program to implement BMPs to control phosphorus at the source and a monitoring program to assess program effectiveness. It is primarily the source control program's mandated implementation of BMPs in the EAA and C-139 basins that regulates total phosphorus loads from these basins prior to inflow to constructed wetlands known as Stormwater Treatment Areas. more »  
Northern Everglades Source Controls
The Northern Everglades and Estuaries Protection Program (NEEPP) includes a phased, comprehensive and innovative program made up of technologies at various scales: source, local, sub-regional and regional.
The District, DEP and FDACS are directed by the NEEPP to implement a source control program designed to be a multifaceted approach to reducing pollutant loads to the Lake Okeechobee, Caloosahatchee River and St. Lucie River watersheds. The nutrients of concern are phosphorus in the Lake Okeechobee Watershed and both phosphorus and nitrogen in the river watersheds. The source control program is to include a water quality monitoring component to assess success in achieving performance goals. more »  
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