Comprehensive Integrated Water Quality Feasibility Study
The Comprehensive Integrated Water Quality Feasibility Study is a study co-sponsored by the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). The study is the result of a recommendation of the Central and Southern Florida Project Comprehensive Review Study (Restudy). The Restudy recognized the need for a comprehensive water quality plan that would integrate the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) projects and other federal, state and local government programs.
The study area for project is the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) boundary plus the study area for the Indian River Lagoon North Feasibility Study (IRLN). The IRLN project is within the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) boundary.
The CERP includes a number of construction features, such as stormwater treatment areas, specifically designed to improve water quality conditions for the purpose of south Florida ecosystem restoration. Further, the plan includes other construction features, such as water storage reservoirs that could be designed to maximize water quality benefits to downstream water bodies. Optimizing the design and operation of construction features of the recommended plan to achieve water quality restoration targets is essential for achieving overall ecosystem restoration goals for south Florida.
Degradation of water quality throughout the study area is extensive, particularly in agricultural and urban coastal areas. The DEP listed approximately 160 use-impaired water bodies in south Florida in its 1998 Section 303(d) list. Although there are several ongoing water quality restoration programs in the study area (e.g. National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) point and non-point source regulatory programs, total maximum daily loads (TMDL's) development and remediation programs, Surface Water Improvement and Management planning efforts), there is no comprehensive plan for achieving water quality restoration in south Florida which links together water quality restoration programs in the context of comprehensive planning for ecosystem restoration. It is also recognized that achieving all of the water quality goals for ecosystem restoration in all use-impaired water bodies within the study area will depend on actions outside the scope of the CERP.
The SFWMD, DEP, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies have developed or are developing water quality improvement programs for several of the impaired water bodies within the study area. The most notable example is the Everglades Forever Act, which focuses on achieving adequate water quality in the Everglades. Other examples include the Surface Water Improvement and Management Act planning efforts for the Indian River Lagoon, Lake Okeechobee, and Biscayne Bay, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Water Quality Protection Program. However, the degree to which some of the existing water quality improvement programs have been implemented has been limited.
To ensure that south Florida ecosystem restoration objectives are achieved, the need for a Comprehensive Integrated Water Quality Plan that links water quality restoration targets and remediation programs to the hydrologic restoration objective of the recommended plan was identified and recommended by the CERP.
The Comprehensive Integrated Water Quality Feasibility Study is meant to address these issues and produce a recommended plan to achieve these goals. Specifically, the CERP mentions the following items that will be addressed:
- Identifying pollution impaired water bodies
- Quantifying types and sources of pollution
- Establishing interim and final pollution load reduction targets necessary to achieve ecosystem restoration
- Recommendations for development of potential source reduction programs
- Recommendations for baseline and future water quality monitoring programs to assess ecological responses to water quality changes
- Recommendations for designing and constructing water quality treatment facilities
- Fragmented, uncoordinated water quality sampling; data quality
- Climatological effects and trends
- Recommendations for oversight and support of improved water quality modeling efforts in south Florida
- Development of additional water quality restoration targets where needed
- Recommendations for remediation programs to achieve those targets
- Recommendations for best management practices in specific agricultural and urban areas where appropriate
- Recommendations for synchronizing water quality restoration programs with the implementation schedule for the components of the recommended plan
- Recommendations for locations of water storage and treatment areas
- Design features for optimizing recommended plan components to achieve water quality restoration targets
- Recommendations for additional features (polishing cells, operational features) for elements lacking specific water quality performance elements
- Evaluation of feasibility of dredging phosphorus enriched sediments in Lake Okeechobee
- Establishment of pollutant load reduction targets in specific regions (St. Lucie River and estuary, Indian River Lagoon, Caloosahatchee River and estuary, Lake Worth Lagoon, Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay, and the Florida Keys)
- Integration of the Florida Keys Water Quality Protection Program
- Expedite development of salinity based water quality criteria for Florida Bay
- Expedite development of appropriate pollution load reduction targets for pollutants causing impairment in nearshore waters of the Florida Keys
The Project Delivery Team has developed a purpose statement which they believe incorporates the objectives and goals of the study. The purpose of the Comprehensive Integrated Water Quality Feasibility Study is to develop a recommended comprehensive plan to achieve and sustain improved water quality for ecosystem restoration in South Florida. The CIWQ plan will complement and be consistent with the goals and purposes of CERP. This will be accomplished by:
- Identify links between water quality and ecosystem functions.
- Identify degraded ecosystems and quantify the types and sources of pollution.
- Develop targets for ecosystem restoration.
- Inventory and evaluate a suite of structural and other measures capable of improving water quality.
- Integrate planned and existing water quality restoration and management programs with projects of the Everglades restoration plan and with other Federal, State, tribal, and local programs and projects.
- Recommend additional programs and projects needed to achieve ecosystem restoration,
- Identify appropriate sources of funding.
The Comprehensive Integrated Water Quality Feasibility Study is currently on hold pending future actions.
The DEP agreed to participate in the Project Management Plan (PMP) phase of the feasibility study as the local sponsor. The Corps and DEP will work together with other federal, state and local agencies to identify problems, opportunities, and potential solutions for ecosystem restoration as they relate to water quality issues. The Project Delivery Team has identified the issues to be addressed by the feasibility study, and the Project Management Plan (PMP) has been prepared. The PMP has been approved by the project's design coordination team and will be presented to the Project Review Board in October 2003. The Corps and DEP will also negotiate a Feasibility Study Cost Sharing Agreement detailing the financial responsibilities of the Corps and FDEP to complete the Feasibility Study.
- View the Project Management Plan for this study
The following external links are to information that may help the reader better understand water quality issues in south Florida or may be of general interest. Some of the links may be useful as reference material, for instance, water quality related legislation.