Surface Water Quality Standards – Classes, Uses, Criteria
Classifications & Designated Uses
The Clean Water Act requires that the surface waters of each state be classified according to designated uses. Florida has
six classes with associated designated uses, which are arranged in order of degree of protection required:
Class I - Potable Water Supplies
Fourteen general areas throughout the state including: impoundments
and associated tributaries, certain lakes, rivers, or portions of
rivers, used as a source of potable water.
Class II - Shellfish Propagation or Harvesting
Generally coastal waters where shellfish harvesting occurs.
Class III - Fish Consumption, Recreation, Propagation and
Maintenance of a Healthy, Well-Balanced Population of Fish and Wildlife
The surface waters of the state are Class III unless described in rule
Class III-Limited – Fish Consumption; Recreation or Limited
Recreation; and/or Propagation and Maintenance of a Limited Population
of Fish and Wildlife
This classification is restricted to waters with human-induced physical
or habitat conditions that, because of those conditions, have limited
aquatic life support and habitat that prevent attainment of Class III
Class IV - Agricultural Water Supplies
Generally located in agriculture areas around Lake Okeechobee.
Class V - Navigation, Utility and Industrial Use.
Currently, there are not any designated Class V bodies of water. The
Fenholloway River was reclassified as Class III in 1998.
For a more detailed description of classes and specific waterbody
To protect present and future most beneficial uses of the waters, water quality criteria have been established for each classification. While some criteria are intended to protect aquatic life, others are designed to protect human health. The criteria are located in rules
F.A.C. Water quality standards also include narrative criteria for pollutants and other conditions not specifically listed.
Site Specific Criteria
Site specific criteria replace the statewide default criteria in
cases where site specific information supports different numeric
criteria. Examples of site specific criteria include alternate
phosphorus criteria in the Everglades (Rule
62-302.540, Florida Administrative Code) and the Site Specific
Alternative Criteria described in Rule
The anti-degradation policy (found in
F.A.C.) allows for protection of water quality above the minimum required for a classification.
For more information please contact:
Eric Shaw at
(850) 245-8429 or
at (850) 245-8427.
Water Quality Standards Program
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
2600 Blair Stone Road - M.S. 6511
Tallahassee, FL 32399