FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Apr. 30, 2014
STATE'S WATER QUALITY ASSESSMENT LEADS TO BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF FLORIDA WATERS
~ 2014 Integrated Report represents one of the most comprehensive data collection efforts in the nation ~
TALLAHASSEE – The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has submitted the 2014 Integrated Water Quality Assessment Report to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The report provides an overview of the status and overall condition of Florida’s surface and groundwater quality and addresses the reporting requirements of the Clean Water Act, which requires each state to report to the EPA on the condition of its water bodies. Using the information from all states, the EPA provides Congress with a national inventory of water quality conditions and develops priorities for future federal actions to protect and restore aquatic resources. In addition, this same data and analysis forms the basis for the department’s water quality protection and restoration efforts.
This report represents one of the most comprehensive data collection efforts in the nation and provides substantial information regarding the quality of our waters. This report includes contributions from monitoring efforts at all levels – by government, universities, volunteer groups and individuals – resulting in substantially more monitoring stations and water-quality data than any other state in the nation. More than 30 percent of the nutrient data for the nation comes from Florida waters. In fact, 25 percent of the nation’s ambient water quality monitoring stations are located within Florida.
“Collecting and analyzing the data in this report was an enormous undertaking and the information garnered from the report is invaluable to the state,” said Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration Drew Bartlett, “The Integrated Report provides tremendous information on water-quality trends and the extent of protection and restoration needs facing Florida.”
In Florida, rivers, streams, canals and ditches make up nearly 104,000 miles of water bodies, while lakes, reservoirs, ponds, estuaries and coastal waters constitute approximately another 6,000 square miles. This is in addition to the more than 1,000 springs in the state and the thousands of wells that provide fresh water for drinking and irrigation uses. Monitoring and characterizing these waters is a tremendous undertaking. The sheer extent of these waters requires several monitoring approaches, or “tiers,” to appropriately and adequately report water-quality conditions. The first of these tiers is a big-picture, statewide statistical estimate of condition. The second critical tier is to identify those water bodies that are impaired, thus requiring restoration. The next level of assessment is to carry out site-specific, cause-and-effect monitoring.
“These comprehensive analyses are made possible by the support of Florida residents, who agree our water bodies are a central part of our state’s economy, culture and heritage,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “I encourage all those interested in Florida’s waterways to thumb through the pages of this report, gain a better understanding of the water quality conditions of the state and engage in local efforts to protect and restore water quality.”
This report is a culmination of diligent efforts on behalf of DEP and stakeholders. A copy of the report can be accessed on the DEP website here under “Integrated Assessment 305(b) Reports.”