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July 2017
Issue 10

In this issue:

Understanding sovereignty submerged lands authorization procedures

District staff can assist in determining the type of permit needed to build a dock.

Now that we are in the summer months, homeowners have begun to inquire about the permitting requirements to build a dock.

If the property is located within a district permitted subdivision, the St. Johns River Water Management District will handle the permitting of the dock. However, a review needs to be completed to determine if the dock is proposed on Sovereignty Submerged Lands (SSL). These are state-owned lands which include, but are not limited to, tidal lands, islands, sandbars, shallow banks and lands waterward of the ordinary or mean high water Line. To determine if the area is an SSL, a copy of the application and a location map is submitted to Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Division of State Lands Title and Land Records Section. A routine title check generally takes between five and 10 business days. If it is determined that the project would be located on state lands, then the district will process the regulatory permitting as well as the proprietary SSL authorization. These reviews can be accomplished concurrently.

Rule 18-21. 005, Florida Administrative Code (F. A. C.), details the different types of SSL authorizations that a project may qualify for. The three most common SSL authorizations are Consent by Rule, Letter of Consent and a Lease.

Both pubic and private recreational docks may qualify under a Consent by Rule, Letter of Consent or Lease authorization. For a dock to qualify for a Letter of Consent, the dock must meet the criteria in rule 18-21. 005(1)(c), F. A. C. Among other things, the project must consist of one minimum-size private residential single-family dock or pier per parcel, or private residential single-family or multi-family docks, that preempt no more than 10 square feet of SSL per each linear foot of the applicant’s SSL riparian shoreline within a single plan of development. Bulkheads or shoreline stabilization cannot extend more than 3 feet waterward of the ordinary or mean high water line. Chapter 18-21, F. A. C. contains additional criteria, but these are the most common forms of SSL authorizations for a single-family dock.

Docks that do not qualify for Consent by Rule or Letter of Consent, any private residential multi-family dock used to moor three or more vessels within aquatic preserves, and all revenue generating activities except for those allowable under Chapter 18-21, F. A. C. require a lease. Chapter 18-21, F. A. C., contains additional criteria for projects requiring a lease.

Prior to submittal of an application for construction of a dock, consultants and applicants are encouraged to contact district staff to arrange a pre-application meeting or phone call.

Emergency authorizations allow temporary relief for projects

Portions of Highway A1A in Flagler County washed away during Hurricane Matthew in
October 2016.

Flooding after a large rainfall event or a stormwater pond bank failing without warning are examples of emergencies that can occur without warning. Provisions are in place to allow work to be conducted to resolve a situation, such as in the case where an emergency occurs that poses a threat to health, safety and/or a danger to the environment.

An Emergency Authorization allows immediate authorization to conduct an activity that would otherwise require a permit from the district. This includes environmental resource permit (ERP) and consumptive use permit (CUP) activities. A person seeking emergency authorization should contact the district. A district compliance coordinator will process the request, which may include a field authorization or allowing early construction when a permit is under review.

Depending on the emergency, the compliance coordinator may ask for information such as the precise location, nature of the emergency, land ownership and a drawing or sketch of the proposed emergency activities. It is important to note that an emergency authorization is not intended to be used as an alternative to obtaining a permit. The Emergency Authorization is temporary and has a defined expiration date and criteria (such as a maximum water level or pumping rate). Also, carelessness or lack of planning are not sufficient grounds for granting of an emergency authorization.

A clean pond provides maximum flood protection

Maintaining stormwater ponds is essential for them to provide the permitted water storage.

Florida developments derive many rewards from functional stormwater systems, especially well maintained wet detention ponds. Some of the many benefits include enhanced property aesthetics, the creation of urban and suburban aquatic ecosystems and the removal of stormwater runoff-borne pollutants.

One important aspect of a wet detention pond is the flood protection benefit it provides to developed property. Wet detention ponds serve as storage reservoirs for the large volumes of runoff generated during storms. This is precisely why it’s vital to always keep wet ponds free of vegetative overgrowth, sediment build-up, trash accumulation and clogged overflow structures. Any one, or combination of these factors, can reduce the available pond storage volume and lead to higher water levels during a storm.

To prevent such mishaps, implement a pond maintenance plan involving routine bank mowing, sediment dredging, monitoring of eroded areas and keeping outfall structures free of debris.

Property owners can contact their homeowners associations to reach out to the district for assistance. Upon request, the district can aid associations in fully understanding the flood protection function of their ponds and help craft an effective pond maintenance program to ensure maximum drainage performance and property protection during storms.

Need help in e-Permitting?

The most efficient and effective way to apply for a permit or submit compliance data and correspondence documents to the St. Johns River Water Management District is through e-Permitting. Documents can be uploaded immediately to the appropriate project, eliminating unnecessary delays and errors that may occur when emailing or mailing documents.

Do you need assistance with e-Permitting? If so, you can call our customer support line at 386-329-4570. Our experienced customer support team members are skilled in using e-Permitting and they are excellent problem solvers. They can also help you with questions regarding how to submit your permitting documents, how to sign and seal documents, as well as assisting you with any problems you may be having. You can also request training support online at and reach our e-Permitting customer support team by email at


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