Note: Most states have enacted laws and regulations to protect wetlands. In many cases, these rules are established to define the state's role in the "§404 permit/§401 certification process." This process involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and your state environmental agency. To learn more about the wetlands permitting process go to the CICA Wetlands Regulations/Permit page.
How Are Wetlands Activities Regulated by Florida? The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulates wetlands under its Environmental Resource Permit (ERP) Program. Part IV of Chapter 373 of the applicable state statute covers the State's surface water regulatory program, which is jointly implemented by DEP and the five Water Management Districts (Northwest Florida, Suwannee River, St. Johns River, Southwest Florida, and South Florida Water Management Districts) using a mixture of rules adopted by DEP and/or each specific WMD. To further streamline the above programs, the Department and the WMDs are pursuing delegations of the ERP program to local governments. For those local governments that qualify and are granted delegation, all necessary authorizations under the ERP program, as well as any needed additional local permits, will be granted or denied at the same time by the local government. This is a regulatory program that covers virtually any movement of soil surface or construction of structures anywhere in the peninsula of Florida, from coast to coast, including uplands and wetlands. The exception is that, within the panhandle (roughly from Escambia County eastward to Jefferson County) the program is implemented using a dredge and fill permit program (under ch. 62-312, F.A.C.) that is limited to surface waters and "contiguous" (not isolated) wetlands, and a stormwater program (under ch. 62-25) that regulates most construction of impervious surfaces (in uplands and wetlands). Florida implements § 401 by granting or denying state water quality certification as part of the regulatory decision to issue or deny a state permit application; the water quality certification decision is then immediately forwarded to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Mitigation Measures. Mitigation banking permits allow recipients to construct, alter, operate, maintain, abandon, or remove any surface water necessary to establish and operate a mitigation bank. The applicant must demonstrate several factors to qualify for a mitigation bank permit including sufficient legal or equitable interest in the land to ensure perpetual protection and the ability to meet the financial responsibility assigned to mitigation banks. The DEP also awards credits based on the degree of improvement in ecological value expected to result from the establishment and operation of the bank. See http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wetlands/mitigation/index.htm.
Wetlands. Wetlands are areas "inundated or saturated by surface water or groundwater at a frequency and a duration sufficient to support, and under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soils."
Regulated Wetland Activities. The ERP program regulates the construction, alteration, maintenance, removal, modification, and operation of all activities in uplands, wetlands and other surface waters (whether publicly or privately-owned) that will alter, divert, impede, or otherwise change the flow of surface waters. That includes dredging and filling in most surface waters and wetlands (whether isolated or connected to other waters). For example, this program covers the construction of new buildings, roadways, and parking areas that increase impervious surfaces and stormwater runoff.
Exempt Wetland Activities. Activities determined to have only a minimal, or insignificant impact on the water resources in a district are exempt. A request to qualify for this exemption must be submitted in writing to the district where the wetland is located or the DEP. Activities with the primary purpose of environmental restoration or water quality improvement on agricultural lands are exempt when a district or DEP has determined the activity poses a minimal individual and cumulative adverse impact on the state's water resources. Altering a tract of land for agriculture, silviculture, floriculture, or horticulture is exempt unless the alteration's main purpose is to impound or obstruct surface water. The maintenance, construction, or operation of an agricultural closed system is also not regulated under the program. Furthermore, mining activities conducted under a mine permit are exempt.
Water Environment Federation. The WEF Web site provides access to a wetlands related technical discussion area, as well as publications and other information on wetlands.
Wetlands Regulation Center. The Wetlands Regulation Center Web site contains information on laws, policies and regulations concerning activities regulated under Sections 401 and 404 of the Clean Water Act.
Association of State Wetland Managers. The Association of State Wetland Managers Web site provides information on wetlands news and events, including new regulations/legislation, upcoming conferences and events, publications, and more.
Society of Wetland Scientists. The Society of Wetland Scientists Web site provides access to on-line scientific wetlands journals and a wetlands discussion forum, as well as information on upcoming wetlands conferences and events.
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