Make clean water a priority

April 16, 2024

The State of Florida is responsible for identifying water pollution problems and developing and implementing strategies to resolve the problems. One critical process for maintaining the health of Florida’s waterways and ensuring they remain safe and usable for various purposes is establishing Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for pollutants. A TMDL is a scientific determination of the maximum amount of a given pollutant that a surface water can absorb and still meet the water quality standards. Waterbodies that do not meet applicable water quality standards are identified as ‘impaired’ and placed on the Verified List of Impaired Waters for the particular pollutant of concern (for example, fecal indicator bacteria). Once TMDLs are developed, they must be adopted and implemented with the goal of reducing pollutants and restoring the water body.

Currently, The Florida Department of Environment has drafted a TMDL report for fecal indicator bacteria for parts of Collier, Lee, and Hendry counties (Everglades West Coast Basin), which is out for review and comment now. The report identifies the concentration (count) based TMDLs and TMDL reduction targets to restore individual impaired waterbodies. For a story map that shows the locations of impaired waterbodies and describes potential sources of bacteria, click here

Everglades West Coast Basin Bacteria TMDL StoryMap

Once the TMDL is adopted the State of Florida may direct implementation through specific requirements in wastewater and stormwater permits, and, as appropriate, through local or regional water quality initiatives or basin management action plans (BMAPs). The stakeholders within the target area create a restoration plan. These stakeholders include local governments, wastewater utilities, agriculture, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Department of Transportation, and other federal, state, and local governmental entities.  

Developing a TMDL restoration plan takes time and commitment. A thorough investigation of the watershed, a strong understanding of potential sources, and strategies to address each potential source are the key elements for an initial restoration plan. Progress toward restoration must be evaluated, and plans must be updated and adapted to meet current needs.

The TMDL process is a crucial framework for improving water quality, and local residents play a vital role in its success. With their firsthand knowledge of local conditions and ecosystems, residents can provide valuable insights that complement scientific data and assessments. By participating in the TMDL process, residents can help identify specific issues affecting water quality, propose practical solutions, and advocate for necessary actions to protect and restore their watershed. This collaboration between residents, environmental agencies, and other stakeholders is essential for creating effective strategies to safeguard our water resources for future generations.

The department will accept written comments on the draft TMDLs, found here, through April 19, 2024.

Written comments should be directed to:, Mail Station #3555, 2600 Blair Stone Road, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-2400.