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Watershed Restoration Framework

illustration of water restoration cycle water quality standards

Getting the water right is a top priority for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. Water resources are critical to the state’s economy and well-being.

Protecting and restoring water quality is a cyclical process. The image at left gives a graphical description of the process.

The first step is to set water quality standards based on rigorous science. Trained staff then monitor water quality by collecting samples from lakes, rivers, springs, and ground water wells, and by conducting biological assessments of aquatic species. Chemists and biologists at the Department's Central Laboratory measure the levels of certain indicator substances in the water. Examples of these indicators are metals, nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and bacteria.

The Department uses these water quality data to identify impaired waters (waterbodies needing restoration). Next, resource managers develop Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for each impaired waterbody and causative pollutant. A TMDL is the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive each day, while still attaining healthy status. After determining TMDLs, the Department creates Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) to restore the impaired waters. Some examples of restoration include stormwater and wastewater treatment, nonpoint source management, implementation of best management practices, and site-specific activities. The restoration cycle repeats as the Department collects more water samples to observe the effects of restoration activities.

Throughout the restoration cycle, Department staff adhere to Standard Operating Procedures and other quality assurance protocols. These practices ensure that data are reliable, representative, and scientifically defensible. Surface water data collected by the Department and partner agencies are stored in the Florida STORET database. Downloads are free to all who are interested.

The Federal Clean Water Act, Florida's Water Quality Assurance Act, and other programs provide the funding and legal authority to implement the action plans. Successful restoration depends on collaboration between citizens, lawmakers, and public and private entities. Together we can ensure cleaner water for generations to come. 

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Last updated: May 24, 2016

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