By Paul Fafeita
It has been written…. that as Florida’s population increases (approximately 900 people a day move into Florida), so does the total amount of land converted to impervious (concrete/asphalt) surfaces. Florida is also the number one tourist destination in the world. Even with the pandemic, folks are still traveling (obviously not as much by air) but more by vehicle.
Stormwater pollution from urban, agricultural, and industrial runoff is a major source of water pollution affecting our estuaries, lakes, rivers, wetlands, and aquifer. Regulation to reduce stormwater runoff is essential to the protection of Florida’s waters.
Regulatory agencies in Florida have over the years written and re-written rules that regulate these and many other water concerns that affect all of us. FDEP’s 2010 Environmental Resource Permit (ERP) Stormwater Quality Applicant’s Handbook would have been a first step for establishing stronger regulations, but was ultimately not adopted. Ten years later, those 2010 draft rules can be built upon for stronger protective procedures that will reflect the advances in technology and scientific understanding of many of the effects that growth is having in Florida. The state must promote strong stormwater regulations that act as a regulatory floor, not a ceiling, for local governments. Equally important, the FDEP must enforce the regulations they adopt… fairly… and across the state. With the projected increase in our population and with new sub-divisions and developments, we need to be assured that the stormwater management systems will be upgraded to modern standards.
The Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County (CWC) has been very active since our formation just over two and a half years ago. The CWC is looking forward to participating in discussion as new “rules” workshops begin by the FDEP. The CWC will be advocating on behalf of our more than 880 partner organizations/businesses for the strictest regulations for stormwater. There is no other option.
Parts of the above narrative have come from a letter sent to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and some state legislators by a number of environmental organizations throughout Florida. Stormwater pollution is a major concern of the CWC, and we will continue to work for our partners to prevent it.
Paul Fafeita, retired, served 30 years with the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office and is currently Owner/Operator of Just Bumminit Guide Service. He is President of the Clean Water Coalition of Indian River County and also the President of the Treasure Coast Chapter of the Coastal Conservation Assoc.
WHAT IS STORMWATER?
Stormwater is not just rain. It contains a lot of nasty stuff that drains off our roads, parking lots, driveways, roofs, and yards. It is water that now contains gasoline, oil, brake dust, cigarette butts, trash, animal waste, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, decayed plants, and soil. This mixture gets washed into ditches, canals, and gutters and ultimately ends up in our Indian River Lagoon and the ocean.
Stormwater management is essential to prevent flooding in our streets and neighborhoods and to remove pollutants before they enter our already impaired Lagoon.