Water Quality Issues Facing Florida Growers

Brian J. Boman, Thomas A. Obreza


Point source discharges have been regulated for many years under the 1972 Clean Water Act (CWA). Even though limits on point source discharges have become more stringent over time, many water bodies still fail to meet the standards defining good water quality. Therefore, efforts to reduce non-point impairment sources have become a major focus of reducing loadings to water bodies during the last decade. Under the authority of section 303(d) of the CWA, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requires that Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) be developed where technology-based effluent limitations or other legally required pollution control mechanisms are not stringent enough to protect water quality. TMDLs describe the amount of each pollutant a water body can receive without violating standards, and are characterized as the sum of pollutant loads of existing and future point sources (e.g., discharges from industry and wastewater treatment facilities), loads from existing and future nonpoint sources (e.g. runoff from farms and urban areas), and natural background loads. TMDLs have been developed or are in the process of being developed for much of peninsular Florida, and as a result, will affect agricultural operations whenever they are developed and implemented through Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs). The management strategies that emerge from the TMDL process may encompass everything from traditional regulatory measures, agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs) and other pollution prevention measures, land acquisition, infrastructure funding, pollutant trading, and the like. They also will include an overall monitoring plan to test their effectiveness. This paper discusses the TMDL/BMAP development and implementation in Florida, the role of agricultural BMPs in meeting the TMDLs, and recent concerns arising from the Numeric Nutrient Water Quality Criteria being proposed by EPA.


TMDLs, BMPS, agriculture, irrigation, stormwater, fertilizer, runoff, leaching, nitrogen, drainage

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Proc. Fla. State Hort. Soc.     ISSN 0886-7283