Monitoring not Modeling! Meeting Governor DeSantis’ January 10, 2020 Deadline for Updating BMAPs

Executive Order 19-12 “What can we do to achieve more now for Florida’s Environment?”

Sometimes all the bureaucracy of water management makes it difficult to understand how things work. Today, I am going to summarize the goals and requirements of Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-12 Section 1, C. in hopes of giving some simple insight into the responsibility of our state agencies to publicly come together to achieve the Governor’s goal; there are only six months remaining.

https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/EO-19-12-.pdf

On January 10th, 2019, just days after being sworn into office, Governor DeSantis put forth Executive Order 19-12. This order has multiple components, but today, we will focus on Section 1, C:

It states: “Update and secure all restoration plans, within one year, for waterbodies impacting Soth Florida communities, including Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee, and the St Lucie Estuaries. These updates will ensure the Blue-Green Algae Task Force has the necessary information to provide guidance to the Department of Environmental Protection on maximizing the investments in water quality improvements. 

Blue-Green Algae Task Force: https://floridadep.gov/Blue-GreenAlgaeTaskForce

So in plain language what does this mean?

This means that the Basin Management Actions Plans, the system the state uses to try to improve water quality through lessening phosphorus and or nitrogen runoff have to be “updated” by January 10, 2020.

Prior to the Governor’s Executive Order 19-12, there was no unified update date, nor a clear deadline date. Why? Because state statute doesn’t give one. How come? Because over the years special interest has lobbied our state legislature to make it this way. Governor DeSantis’ order complicates this by giving a hard deadline to find out how these BMAPS are working or not working.

An update is an “update on the status of  implementation at the end of the first phase and  an opportunity to provide recommendations for future phases of the BMAP.”

The three Basin Management Actions Plans that need to be updated include the Okeechobee BMAP; the St Lucie BMAP and the Caloosahatchee BMAP.

Below are maps of these BMAPS; and you can read about the evolution of each one separately by looking it up alphabetically here: https://floridadep.gov/dear/water-quality-restoration/content/basin-management-action-plans-bmaps

The agencies that oversee this process are the Department of Environmental Protection (regulation of water quality standards); the Dept of Agriculture and Consumer Services (BMPs or Best Management Practices); and the South Florida Water Management District (water quantity or “projects)

You will see as you read about these BMAPS they are more of a soft than hard science. These maps were developed to meet a “total maximum daily load” reduction of phosphorus and or nitrogen, overtime – like 20 or 30 years!

To do this, basins and stakeholders are identified, and best management practices for agriculture and other stakeholders are implemented. Then the Dept of Environmental Protection models how much the best management practice will help remove phosphorus and or nitrogen and a certain amount of credit is given for using the Best Management Practice.

It’s kind of like giving a grade based on participation instead of performance. It’s time to raise the bar. In order for the Blue-Green Algae Task Force to have the necessary information to provide guidance to the Department of Environmental Protection on maximizing the investments in water quality improvements,” we must truly know the numbers.

~Monitoring not Modeling!

P.S. Why are the three BMAPs together in the executive order? Lake O is discharged into the St Lucie River and Caloosahatchee so for them to meet their goals, Lake Okeechobee has to meet its goals. For now, we are all connected.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Monitoring not Modeling! Meeting Governor DeSantis’ January 10, 2020 Deadline for Updating BMAPs

  1. Great summary and explanation Jacqui! As they say “what gets measured gets done”. Time for on the ground monitoring and measurement for the entire watershed including Ag. Thx, Wayne

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  2. Good post. The challenge is daunting, but we must begin to reduce the tremendous level of pollution coming from these basins.

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  3. Good post. Glad to see attention being paid to the actual sources of excess water and pollution going unto Lake o and the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee. We must address these sources and reduce the damage to the Lake and estuaries.

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  4. Jacqui, thanks for the clarification on Gov. DeSantis’ Order. We appreciate all that you are doing to improve our water quality and to minimize the possibility of another 2013, 2016 & 2018!
    I hope the SFWMD will be supporting the establishment of agricultural buffer zones for our rivers and waterways by the Florida Legislature in the 2020 Legislative Session.

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  5. Best Management Practices (BMP’s) for agriculture have been reported to have had a high rate of compliance over the years as farming practices embraced things like more efficient irrigation and more careful and efficient handling of fertilizer and herbicide chemicals in loading and storing. BMP’s have long included “Retention and Detention of water” but while compliance with many other BMP’s has been very cost effective for production, retention and detention of water has been the most expensive and least complied with BMP. EAA producers have relied on taxpayer funded Water Conservation Areas (WCA’s) and SFWMD infrastructure to lower water tables beneath their crops.
    BMP’s need to include provisions for suspending the drainage of fields under Environmental Regulatory Permits (ERP’s) issued to facilitate the pumping of water from fields into taxpayer funded canals and ultimately into WCA’s and estuaries. ERP’s have been issued for more than 40 years with provisions for suspension in the event of an emergency. Emergency declarations dealing with threats to public health should spur the chairman of SFWMD to suspend ERP’s in order to facilitate retention and detention of water as called for under BMP’s.
    The EAA is large enough that storage of water in the ground beneath fields could yield enough capacity in the WCA’s to make a difference in whether discharges to coastal estuaries are necessary to prevent dangerous pressure on the Herbert Hoover Dike. Much of the minimal production loss would be compensated for by federal price supports for sugar.

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