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Draft February 25, 1997
NORTHERN TAMPA BAY MINIMUM FLOWS AND LEVELS ESTABLISHMENT
TECHNICAL AND COMMUNITY COMMITTEES
In November 1996, staff of the SWFWMD formed a technical committee and a community
committee with members from over 30 entities attempting to reach consensus by March 1,
1997, on the methodology to be utilized in developing, establishing and applying minimum
flows and levels in the priority areas in Hillsborough, Pasco, and Pinellas Counties. These
flows and levels are required to be established by the SWFWMD by October 1, 1997,
pursuant to 373.042(2), Florida Statutes, adopted by the Florida Legislature in 1996. The
statute requires that the SWFWMD "...shall establish the minimum flows and levels for surface
watercourses, aquifers, and surface water in the counties of Hillsborough, Pasco, and
Pinellas. The priority list shall be based upon the importance of the waters to the state or
region and the existence of or potential for significant harm to the water resources and
ecology of the state or region, and shall include those waters which are or may be
experiencing adverse impacts and those waters which are identified as possible new water
supply sources proposing to withdraw 5 million gallons or more per day in the future." The
technical committee has invested several hundred hours in meetings and field visits during the
past 90 days. The community committee has worked every week during that same time. This
document summarizes the work results of the committees to date.
B. TECHNICAL COMMITTEE
1. Participating Entities
The following organizations participated on the committees:
West Coast Regional Water U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Supply Authority South, St. Johns River, Northwest and
Pasco County Suwanee River Water
City of St. Petersburg Management Districts
City of Tampa Tampa Bay Regional Planning
H. C. Environmental Protection Council
Commission Keystone Civic Association
Coalition of Lakes Association City of Dunedin
Tampa Bay Sierra Club Canoe Escape
Hillsborough River Greenways Hernando County Utilities
Task Force Florida Strawberry Growers
Tampa Bay National Estuary Association
Program City of Temple Terrace
Florida Audubon Society Seminole Electric Cooperative
Florida Department of Pinellas County
Environmental Protection Florida Citrus Mutual
U.S. Geological Survey
Hillsborough County Farm Cargill Fertilizer
Florida Farm Bureau Manasota-88
CF Industries Florida Game and Fresh Water
Manatee County Utilities Fish Commission
Florida Department of Agriculture SWFWMD Environmental Advisory
and Consumer Services Committee
The committee has strived to reach consensus on the methodology in accordance with
the following objectives:
(1) Minimum flows and levels should be scientifically based and reproducible.
(2) Methodologies developed should maintain consistency among the state's water
management districts, and agreeable to the Department of Environmental
(3) Methodologies should rely upon best available existing data; however, there
would be opportunity to collect some additional data as the methods are applied
to determine the proposed flows and levels by summer 1997.
(4) Methodologies developed must be effectively applied to meet the SWFWMD's
requirement to establish the flows and levels on priority water bodies by
October 1, 1997.
(5) Resulting minimum flows and levels must protect the water resource and
ecology of the area from reductions in those flows and levels by activities
permitted under F.S. Chapter 373 (i.e., water use, surface water management
systems, works of the district, etc.).
(6) When appropriate, minimum flows and levels may account for seasonal
variations. Additionally, data would be collected for the governing board to
consider the protection of nonconsumptive uses.
(7) Minimum flows and levels should provide a tool for long-term planning, and
complement the other requirements for issuance of water use, environmental
resource, and works of the district permits.
3. Points of Agreement
Establishment of Minimum Levels to Protect Wetlands Establishment of minimum
levels for wetlands will be based on a determination of an appropriate adjustment to
wetland stage-duration curves. The adjustment will be based on an appropriate level of
ecological change to the wetland system.
Establishment of Minimum Levels to Protect Lakes The establishment of minimum
levels to protect a lake will be accomplished by determining an appropriate adjustment
to the stage-duration curve for the lake. The adjustment will be based on an
appropriate level of ecological change to the lake system.
Establishment of Minimum Levels in the Floridan Aquifer District staff believes that
Floridan levels must be set for the protection of lakes and wetlands and will establish
such levels, but there is not consensus among the rest of the committee to do this at
this time. There is agreement that the committee has identified a method for
establishing minimum levels in the Floridan aquifer and wants to aggressively pursue
resolving this by the March 1997 Governing Board meeting.
Water Resources of the Area There is consensus that establishment of minimum
flows and levels of an area does have spatial component that needs to be considered.
The group has not reached consensus on how to define the "Area(s)" for which levels
will be set but wants to aggressively pursue resolving this matter by the March 1997
Governing Board meeting.
B. COMMUNITY COMMITTEE
To provide input on the District staffs model for the establishment and application of
minimum flows and levels.
2. Points of Agreement
The committee established the following as goals for the SWFWMD minimum flows and
(1) Protect natural systems where the existing flows and levels are above the
minimum flow or level by not allowing actual flows or levels to go below the
minimum flow or level.
(2) Where the existing flow or level is below the minimum flow or level, get back to
the minimum flow or level if practicable, based on the following factors:
(c) environmental feasibility
(d) public interest
(e) not cause other environmental impacts or other impacts
(f) environmental value
(3) If impracticable to fully achieve the minimum flow or level, do what can be done
to affect or recover the flow or level t the greatest extent practicable.
(4) Provide guidance for water and land resources management decisions.
While there was no consensus on the use of the District staffs model for establishment
and application of minimum flows and levels the committees comments and criticisms
were valuable to staff in refining its model.
Staff prepared the model shown in Attachments 1 and 2 after considering the
committee's goals and comments on the original model and discussions with the other
water management districts and the Department of Environmental Protection, the
Governor's Water Supply Development and Funding Work Group and discussion by the
C. ONGOING ACTIVITIES
(1) Establishment of Minimum Flows and Levels Should consensus be reached on
the scientifically-based methodologies, SWFWMD staff will extend an invitation
to every entity who has participated in this consensus building process to assist
SWFWMD staff in establishing the minimum flows and levels on the priority
water bodies by October 1, 1997.
(2) Implementation of Minimum Flows and Levels The Technical and Community
Committees will be combined to work on developing the mechanisms to be used
by the District to implement the established minimum flows and levels. The
mechanisms could take many forms ranging from permit conditions to water
shortage limitations to water resource projects. These mechanisms will be
discussed with the Governing Board as they are developed though some may
not need to be finalized until after October 1, 1997.
(3) Nonconsumptive Uses The statute requires the Governing Board to consider
and allows the Board to provide for the protection of nonconsumptive uses in
establishing a minimum flow or level. Nonconsumptive uses include such things
as navigation, recreation and aesthetics. The Technical Committee has
compiled information on docks and other indicators of nonconsumptive uses.
This Information will be analyzed and such information and recommendations
will be prepared for consideration by the Governing Board as part of its
determination as to whether a particular minimum flow or level will be based
wholly on the scientifically-based minimum flow and level or whether that flow or
level will be adjusted.
STAFF PROPOSED MODEL FOR ESTABLISHMENT
OF MINIMUM FLOWS AND LEVELS
1. Determine the scientific flow or level that sustains the desired natural system
based on key ecological factors.
2. Determine whether any of the following unique (adjustment) factors exist that
should be considered in establishing the minimum flow or level:
a. Recreation, navigation or aesthetic requirements that are inconsistent with
the scientific flow or level;
b. Factors that are beyond the practicable control of the District and
i. Water control structures that impact the scientifically-based flow or
level where it is determined that such structures could never be
modified to reduce or eliminate its impact, and where no other
feasible means of offsetting its impact (e.g. augmentation
downstream of a dam) is foreseen;
ii. Surface water alterations either natural, permitted under Part 1 or
Part 4 of Ch. 373, F.S. ,or exempt from permitting (but not those
caused by water withdrawals), which have changed the hydrology
of the waterbody, provided that the impacts of these alterations are
scientifically established to the satisfaction of the Governing Board;
3. If no unique factors exist, or they exist but they are not deemed sufficient to
override the scientifically-based flow or level, then the scientifically-based flow or
level is established as the long-term average minimum flow or level.
4. If unique factors exist that override the scientifically-based flow or level, then the
scientifically-based flow or level can be adjusted based on these factors and the
minimum flow or level established accordingly.
5. Where the existing flow or level is above the minimum flow or level, ensure that
permits are not granted that would cause the actual flow or level to fall below the
minimum flow or level on a long-term average basis.
6. Where the existing flow or level is below the minimum flow or level new
quantities will not be permitted.
7. For existing permits, where the existing level is below the minimum flow or level
use the following factors at permit renewal to evaluate each permitted's practical
ability to reduce impacts on the flow or level over the term of the permit on a
case-by-case basis in order to achieve the minimum flow or level over the long
a. Cost the cost to the permitted to implement measures to reduce its
withdrawal impact on the actual flow or level ("Measures");
b. Time the time that it will take the permitted to fully implement the
Measures (Note: cost and time incorporate "technical feasibility");
c. Public health, safety and welfare any unavoidable public health, safety
or welfare emergency that would be caused by implementation of the
d. Net environmental value whether the environmental benefits gained from
implementation of the Measures to attain the minimum flow or level
outweighs environmental loss that may result from the Measures.
e. Alternatives actions/programs in lieu of or in combination with the
Measures that will contribute to the attainment of the minimum flow or
level and will optimize the net positive effect on the impacted
8. Address achieving the minimum flow or level over a reasonable time period
through a combination of regulatory (permit-related) and non-regulatory (district
and co-funded projects) mechanisms.
The SWFWMD Staff Proposed Approach for Setting Levels
Existing Level Above MFL
Apply Unique Factors Either level
can be MFL
Address through P-factors
on permits, and projects
Existing Level Below MFL
Description of Approach:
Uses science to determine the environmentally-sustainable flow or level
Allows consideration of any unique factors that might prohibit attainment of the
sustainable level (e.g., the existence of a sinkhole)
Allows establishment of the minimum flow or level at either the science level or adjusted
level, as deemed appropriate by the Governing Board
Establishes the MFL as a long-term average level for use in allocating withdrawals and
evaluating proposed surface water alterations
When the existing level is below the MFL, establishment of the MFL does not cause
existing users to automatically be in violation of the flow or level
When the existing level is below the MFL, allows site-specific consideration of the
practicality of attaining the MFL at the time of permit evaluation of existing users
When the existing level is above the MFL, District permitting programs would not allow
surface water alterations (40D-4) or withdrawals (40D- 2) to exceed the MFL
When the existing level is above the MFL, water users are provided with availability information
useful for planning purposes
Allows District to use a combination of projects and permitting to achieve sustainability where
Recognizes that a sustainable flow or level that's unattainable today may be attainable in the future
as technology advances