STATE OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION
TWIN TOWERS OFFICE BUILDING GOVERNOR
2600 BLAIR STONE ROAD
TALLAHASSEE, FLORIDA 32399-2400 DALE TWACHTMANN
OUTSTANDING FLORIDA WATERS
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Some common questions about an Outstanding Florida Water (OFW)
designation are answered here. For more information, please
contact Eric Shaw, Mary Morris or Tom Swihart In Tallahassee
What is the basic intent of an OFW designation?
To prevent the lowering of existing water quality.
Does the present classification of the proposed waters already
^^ prevent the lowering of water quality?
No. For current water quality classifications such as Class
II (Shellfish Propagation or Harvesting) and Class III
(Recreation, Fish, and Wildlife), DER can legally issue
permits to lower water quality down to the minimum standards
for that classification. The general minimum standards are
intended to protect these uses but may not protect all
species or be adequate for all water bodies. Class III and
II waters have a smaller "safety margin" than Outstanding
What activities would be affected by an OFW designation?
Only activities that require a DER permit would be affected,
such as dredge and fill, stormwater discharge, or pollutant
Would regulatory activities of all state and federal agencies be
No. Only DER permitting activities are affected with the
exception of some permits required by Water Management
Districts that have been delegated stormwater management
authority under Chapter 17-25, Florida Administrative Code.
Protecting Florida and Your Quality of Life
What types of activities are not affected by an OFW designation?
Activities not regulated by DER, such as river setback
ordinances, are not affected. Generally fishing, boating,
and diving activities are unaffected. However, some
indirectly associated activities, such as dredging and
filling for new marinas, are subject to OFW standards.
Some activities, such as those for maintenance of existing
facilities, activities to allow or enhance public usage, and
temporary lowering of water quality during construction
activities, are exempted from regular OFW criteria, if
special safeguards are used.
Is an additional application needed to obtain a permit for an
activity in an OFW?
No. An OFW designation affects the criteria used in
permitting decisions. It is not a new or separate permit
What effect does an OFW designation have on a pollutant discharge
that currently has a DER permit?
Existing legal discharges are "grandfathered" and may
continue without any new OFW requirements.
Some activities are exempt from DER permitting. Would exemptions
still be possible with an OFW designation?
Yes. An OFW designation affects only activities which
require a DER permit. Activities eligible for an exemption
from DER permitting do not have any new requirements placed
What regulations would new pollutant discharges be subject to?
There are separate requirements which must be met for direct
and indirect discharges:
New direct pollutant discharges must not lower existing
ambient water quality.
New indirect pollutant discharges (discharges to waters
which influence OFWs, although not placed directly into an
OFW) must not significantly degrade Outstanding Florida
Activities must also be "clearly in the public interest".
Are there stricter stormwater controls for OFWs?
Yes. Some activities which directly discharge stormwater to
OFWs are required to retain or treat a larger amount of
stormwater than facilities which discharge to non-OFW
waters. Some Water Management Districts have been delegated
stormwater permitting authority.
Are there any exemptions to the stormwater requirements for
agriculture or silviculture activities?
Yes. Generally, facilities for agricultural lands are
exempted from the stormwater requirements provided that they
are managed as part of an approved Conservation Plan which
is implemented according to its terms (Section 17-25.03(1)
(e), Florida Administative Code). Facilities for
silviculture that are constructed and operated in accordance
with Silviculture Best Management Practices (1979) are also
exempt, as specified in Section 17-25.03(1)(f), F.A.C. The
specific exemptions may vary somewhat among the water
Would an OFW designation shut down development in the area?
No. This has not been the effect of other OFW
designations. However, a designation can impose higher
costs for pollution abatement on new pollution sources.
Would an OFW designation prevent the issuance or renewal of
permits for maintenance dredging and spoil disposal?
The activities in current maintenance dredging and spoil
disposal permits would be grandfathered under an OFW
designation. A substantially different or expanded dredging
operation would either have to meet the general OFW
requirements or qualify for one of the exemptions. The
Department of Environmental Regulation has issued a number
of maintenance dredging permits in OFWs.
Would an OFW designation extend DER's jurisdiction further into
tributaries and wetlands?
No. The jurisdiction of DER is no wider or narrower after
an OFW designation. However, within that same geographic
area, there are new, more stringent standards for the
issuance of DER permits.
How is an area designated as an OFW?
The Florida Environmental Regulation Commission, a
seven-member citizens' body, votes on each proposal at a
^ public meeting that is usually held in the affected area.
March 13, 1987