Environmental resource permitting
Formal Wetland Determination process has changed
A Formal Wetland Determination (FWD) is one method of establishing the landward extent of wetlands and other surface water boundaries. The benefit of an FWD is that it provides a property owner, or any entity that demonstrates equitable interest in a property, with the ability to bind the landward extent of wetlands and other surface waters on a property for five years. The owner or entity then has the ability to re-authorize an FWD prior to expiration to ensure that the delineated landward extent of wetlands and other surface waters is valid for another five-year period.
With the adoption of the Statewide Environmental Resource Permitting (SWERP) rules, the St. Johns River Water Management District’s procedure for processing petitions for an FWD has changed. The procedures are described in Section 7.0 of Volume I of the Applicant’s Handbook, effective Oct. 1, 2013.
The most notable procedural change is that the district now can administratively or substantively deny a petition for an FWD. Specifically:
- The petitioner (applicant) now has 120 days to respond to a request for additional information (RAI) in order to complete a petition. A petitioner can request an additional 120 days to respond, but has to do so in writing describing the circumstances for needing additional time to respond. This request must be approved by the district. Failure to provide a response within the 120-day time frame can result in an administrative denial of the petition request without prejudice.
- A petition can be substantively denied if the materials provided to the district do not contain all of the applicable information required in the rule.
- The petitioner can withdraw the FWD petition without prejudice any time in the process prior to the district taking action.
It is important to be aware of these new processing time frames when submitting a petition for an FWD to ensure timely completion of the FWD within the context of the applicable rules. District staff can assist any individual who is considering or is submitting a petition for an FWD.
Consumptive use permitting
Important to know the short-term construction dewatering basics
Recent changes during the statewide Consumptive Use Permitting Consistency (CUPcon) rulemaking modified the rules regarding short-term construction dewatering activities. Dewatering is the removal of water associated with the extraction of subsurface materials or to control surface water or groundwater for construction or excavation projects.
Prior to the rule changes, contractors conducting dewatering activities within the district were required to obtain a “short-term construction dewatering permit” and submit an RDS-50 form 10 days prior to each qualifying short-term dewatering project. Now this activity can be conducted under a general permit by rule if the criteria in Rule 40C-2.042(9), Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), and Appendix I are met.
However, a Notice of Commencement (form 40C-2.900(12)) must be filed with the district. This form is to be submitted 10 days prior to the dewatering event if it is not in response to an emergency situation involving a threat to public safety. In such an emergency situation, notification shall be provided the next business day.
General permits by rule are intended for construction dewatering projects where:
- The withdrawal does not exceed 180 days in duration.
- The withdrawal does not exceed an average of 1 million gallons per day and meets the other withdrawal limits stated in the Notice of Commencement.
- The withdrawal is conducted by a conventional wellpoint system, vacuum underdrain system (i.e., sock drain), or shallow vacuum well system. (Open intake hydraulic pump dewatering is not authorized under a general permit by rule unless it is being used to dewater a previously permitted stormwater management pond or basin which is in operational phase at the time the dewatering is to occur.)
- The water withdrawn is not discharged directly into an Outstanding Florida Water (OFW), Class I or Class II water body.
- The turbidity control measures set by rule are implemented.
Dewatering may also qualify for an exemption, which does not require notice to the district, where:
- The withdrawal does not exceed 30 days in duration
- The withdrawal is 300,000 gallons per day or less
- The withdrawal meets the exemption criteria in Rule 40C-2.051(7), F.A.C.
If the dewatering activity does not qualify under the general permit by rule or exemption provisions, a Minor Individual or Individual consumptive use permit is needed. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance in determining the type of permit the project may need.
Pre-application coordination is important
District staff are available to review the details of proposed projects prior to submittal of a permit application. This pre-application exchange can occur by phone, emails or face-to-face meetings, either at the project site or in the office.
Pre-application coordination can include the review of legal documents, detailed plans and calculations, projected water use demands, groundwater modeling, wetland impacts, mitigation plans and permitting criteria.
Topics for a pre-application meeting may include:
- Sovereign submerged lands approval
- Conservation and drainage easements
- Regional and local drainage issues
- Potential for localized and regional impacts to wetlands, springs and surface waters
- Potential for interference with existing legal uses
- Potential for harmful saline water intrusion
- Whether a lower quality water source is available
- Potential wetland drawdown
- Concerns of adjacent property owners
- Receiving water category, class or impaired status
- Incorporating landscape irrigation design into the engineering design plans to maximize the use of lowest quality sources
- The required permit type and permit application fee
Early coordination with district staff promotes a team approach, reduces RAI letters, and minimizes the time that an application is under review. In addition, by using e-Permitting, relevant documents to these discussions can be shared electronically.
To schedule a pre-application meeting, contact the service center that handles permitting for your county.