“Tough Love” and Impediments to Implementation of the IRL Basin Management Action Plans, SLR/IRL

Basin Management Action Plans, Florida. TCRPC doc. 2015.
Basin Management Action Plans, Florida. TCRPC doc. 2015.

You have probably heard it a hundred times: “BMAP, Basin Management Action Plan..” or “TMDLs….Total Maximum Daily Loads….”

That sounds kind of odd doesn’t it? Load of what?”

Phosphorus and nitrogen going into the water that is…

Florida Department of Environmental Protection:(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/central/Home/Watershed/BMAP.htm)

Anyway, today I will once again to try to boil-down some fancy government terms to help you understand what our state is doing to try to fix the “impaired waters of the state…” such as our St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. I will focus on a report about “what is impeding its progress.” This report will be discussed at the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council on 6-19-15.

“Impediments to Implementation of the Indian River Lagoon Basin Management Action Plans” by the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council and the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council was prepared with technical assistance from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity, 5-27-15.

For a full copy of this report please contact Mr Michael Busha at mbusha@tcrpc.org

Here we go:

The Background section of the report  notes:” …In the past century the IRL has been affected by many activities including the creation of inlets, dredging of navigational channels, impoundment of mangroves for mosquito control, shoreline development, and alteration of the watershed basins draining into the lagoon. Today water quality the single most important issue impacting the lagoon. The decline in water quality is attributed to an increase in nutrient input, sedimentation, turbidity, atmospheric deposition, nutrient releases from legacy muck deposits, and changes in salinity due to freshwater discharges. The issue is complex because the impact comes from a variety of sources, including non point sources of stromwater entering the lagoon through major canals systems as well as through smaller creeks, tributaries, and individual outfall structures.”

State BMAP 2015. TCRPC
State BMAP 2015. TCRPC

Here I must state something not noted in the report in case you don’t know:  Not until a water body is declared as “impaired” does it get the help of  the state creating a Basin Management Action Plan through the implementation of TMDLs—-or the determination of Total Maximum Daily Loads.

I wrote something in the past about  this and likened a “total maximum daily load”  to a “maximum daily allowance of cigarettes that one is allowed to smoke before one gets cancer…..a “total daily maximum daily load” of phosphorus and or nitrogen is what the government is talking about with the river. How much it can take before it gets sick/impaired.

Phosphorus and nitrogen come from different sources; I always note fertilizer as an example because it is written right there on the bag, and fertilizer from farming and people’s yards is a huge source of the LOAD of phosphorus and nitrogen going into our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon….

Right now all our water bodies get too much nutrient pollution (too many cigarettes) so now the government is figuring out how to cut back slowly over time….the problem is the river may die while we are “trying to kick the habit…”

Now, back to the official document: There are currently 20 adopted BMAPs in Florida. Portions of the IRL are addressed by four of the adopted BMAPs. They are North IRL; Banana River: Central IRL; St Lucie River and Estuary.

IRL BMAPs 2015.
IRL BMAPs 2015.

Each plan varies but has the same goal: to lessen nutrient pollution, to improve water quality, and whether the plan says it or not, to increase sea grasses….The plans outline specific project that are expected to provide load reductions of phosphorus and nitrogen. All plans are implemented in 5 year periods spread out over 15 years. Plans can be many things, turning dirt, holding water, implementing best management practices not to allow runoff….

Polluted runoff causes impairment…

The St Lucie River was determined as “impaired” in 2002. (Report at end of blog.)

The SLR/IRL BMAP was adopted in 2013. So to figure out how this plan will work….in 2018 the state will have a goal for load reduction; then again in 2023; and then again in 2028. Each time period the load numbers should be going down, and if they are not, cities, counties,  and other stakeholders, like agriculture, and other polluters, should be in trouble if there is not a reduction in loads. DEP oversees all of this.

Kind of confusing isn’t it? And I am not sure my dates are correct, but hopefully you get the idea….Perfect science? No. But at least there is a plan…I just wish they’d get us off the cigarettes faster. Like make us go “cold turkey.”

The report list the following impediments the BMAPs.

1. Inadequate Funding….

2. Nutrient Load from Muck not Addressed. (Muck holds nutrients so when it get stirred up from winds or storms it is “re-released…” (Second hand smoke….)

3. Nutrient Loads from ground water are not being addressed. (Groundwater comes up from the ground as tides rise and bring nutrients like from septic tanks into the river and lagoon—gross.)

4. No Incentive for Stormwater Management. I am not really sure about this one but obviously it has to do with incentives; seems like the government could help create incentives if we would reward clean water….(inventions, lessen people’s taxes if they achieve clean water “loads.”) Hey doesn’t the Dept of Economic Opportunity do stuff like this?

5. Incomplete water quality data. Collecting data is expensive. Maybe high school kids could get credit if they did it…..and let’s face it: WE KNOW the WATER’S DIRTY. Focus on the source and stop acting like we don’t know where all this nutrient pollution is coming from!

6. Inadequate Water Quality Monitoring. Same thing as above. Figure it out. Guess….

7.  Unequal treatment of public and private entities, agriculture, and water control. This is complicated, but basically in my opinion the Right to Farm Act puts less stringent standards on agriculture to prove they are lessening loads than on municipalities and counties. BMPs vs NPDS (Best Management Practices vs. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System…)This is a huge problem. Ag has to enter the 21st century. All ag. Best Management Practices are “voluntary.” This is not enough!

8. Onerous conditions attached to BMAP projects

9. Inadequate technology to meet TMDL goals

10. BMAPS are based on flawed TMDLs

11. Trends in nutrient loading from atmosphere not being considered. (Phosphorus and nitrogen come in from rains and winds from as far away as the Europe, Africa and other nations polluting too…

12. Legacy Loading in Lake Okeechobee. THIS IS MY FAVORITE. How can surrounding governments and stakeholders be held responsible for lowering loads when periodic releases from Lake O through the C-44 canal pollute the water as fast as we can clean it up? For instance this year the ACOE and SFWMD have released  into the estuary since January 16th and just stopped three weeks ago…MAJOR SECOND HAND SMOKE!!!!!!

13. Lack of Operations Monitoring

14. Load allocation process is not consistent between BMAPs. This has to do with  undeveloped land being removed from the maps as nutrient reductions are not required on those lands…

There is a lot more to the report but that is a summary.

This whole process of BMAPS and TMDLs is confusing, but I wanted to at least give you an idea of the report. We must remember not to be too negative for the state workers implementing the BMAP.  Negativity will not inspire more work, it will inspire less. Also it is not their fault. Fault lies in leadership.

Rather that telling businesses, citizens, and most of all agriculture to QUIT SMOKING, leadership —-and this is going back many years and includes Democrats and Republicans—is  basically paying for our rehab over a period of 15 to 35 years.

Florida’s waters do not have time for rehab. They must be fixed today. Tough love is really the only answer.

_______________________

DEP Declaration of “Impairment” St Lucie River, 2002: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/SLE_Impairment_Narrative_ver_3.7.pdf)

5 thoughts on ““Tough Love” and Impediments to Implementation of the IRL Basin Management Action Plans, SLR/IRL

  1. Jacqui,

    I am so not a nit-picker or grammar maven, and this is not a criticism. To the contrary, I am among your biggest fans and await your blogs eagerly.

    But I just couldn’t stop laughing when I saw that typo and had to thank you for it.

    So, please keep smiling and keep up the good work!

    Mary

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Actually, your title should have been: “Tough Shit, IRL, Because You Are Gonna Be Slammed With Tons More Pollution Because Gov’t Can’t Get Their Act Together”

    Awesome post. Thank you so much for explaining this latest gush of excuses from the gov’t that is supposed to protect us.

    The biggest irony to me is that our Speaker of the Florida House, Steve Crisafulli, lives on Merritt Island and is actively opposing any measures to help Send The Water South.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have always felt the State of Florida walked away from water quality issues in our state when the automobile inspection program was canceled in the early 1980s.This has made it where thousands of old and poorly maintained automobiles spew immense amounts of oil and other lubricants all over the roads and parking lots of our state and all drains lead to the sea.It’s adding insult to injury to see a petroleum sheen on the waters of the Indian River when we have all these other problems affecting our water quality.

    Like

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