The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) published its “Notice of Development of Rulemaking” in the Florida Administrative Weekly to amend Chapter 62-330, Florida Administrative Code, proposing environmental resource permitting (ERP) rules applicable statewide.
This rule amendment represents substantial revisions to Chapter 62-330, F.A.C., which implements Part IV of Chapter 373, F.S. The new rule will develop and implement a statewide ERP program governing the construction, alteration, operation, maintenance, repair abandonment, and removal of stormwater management systems, dams, impoundments, reservoirs, appurtenant works, or any combination thereof. These new rules will be implemented by FDEP, the five water management districts, and those local governments that have been delegated ERP permitting authority by FDEP.
This rulemaking effort is a result of House Bill 7003 passed during the 2012 legislative session. HB 7003 was passed to address inconsistencies between the ERP rules of the water management districts and the FDEP. The bill directed FDEP to prepare a statewide ERP rule that will include types of ERP permits, the conditions of issuance for those permits, and criteria for projects that will qualify for exemptions from the permitting requirements. Importantly, local governments that have been delegated ERP permitting authority must amend their ordinances and rules to be consistent with the new rules within 12 months.
According to the FDEP, the new rules will also incorporate new, and amend existing, exemptions and noticed general permits to authorize certain minor and routine activities more quickly than through individual permit review. The intent is to lower the cost to the Applicant without causing significant adverse impacts individually or cumulatively.
Providing some details as to how the proposed rule changes will be structured, FDEP states that the rules will incorporate by reference certain guidance documents, known as Applicant’s Handbooks, which will consist of two volumes. The first volume adopted by FDEP will include general and environmental procedures, and forms, that will apply statewide. The second volume of the Applicant’s Handbook will be specific to each water management district and will retain existing design and performance standards for stormwater quantity and quality within each water management district. Finally, basin specific rules adopted by the water management districts will also be retained and incorporated by reference to maintain the regional differences necessary, based on regional issues such as rainfall, soil characteristics, and other physical and natural characteristics throughout the state.
For additional details, and to track the status of the statewide ERP rulemaking initiative, information is available on the FDEP website here.