Regulatory newsletter
August 2016, Issue 7
Understanding criteria for environmental resource general permits
Boat dock on a large body of water

With permitting rules updated under the Statewide Environmental Resource Permitting Program, district staff are available to assist in determining if a project requires a district permit.

Under the new statewide environmental resource permit (SWERP) rules in Chapter 62-330, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), environmental resource permit (ERP) activities fit into one of three categories: Sub-Threshold (those which fall below the permit threshold in Rule 62-330.020, F.A.C.); Exempt Activities (regulated activities that are exempted from obtaining a permit based on specific criteria in Rule 62-330.051, F.A.C.) and Regulated Activities (activities that are not exempted and trip a threshold listed in 62-330.020, F.A.C.). A general permit, under Rule 62-330.401, F.A.C., authorizes certain ERP activities that, if conducted in accordance with the permit criteria, have minimal individual and cumulative impacts to water resources (including wetlands and other surface waters) and do not require mitigation. Notably, the “10/2” general permit in Section 403.814(12),
Florida Statutes (F.S.), is not a general permit under Chapter 62-330, F.A.C.

To qualify for a general permit, the proposed activity must comply with the General Conditions outlined in Rule 62-330.405, F.A.C. Many of the conditions are designed to minimize environmental impacts by minimizing dredging or filling, preventing water quality violations, or preventing damage to submerged aquatic vegetation. Additionally, activities authorized by a general permit shall not: impede navigation or create a navigational hazard; impound or obstruct existing water flow, or cause flooding; or cause adverse impact to the maintenance of surface or groundwater levels or surface water flows (minimum flows and levels) established pursuant to Section 373.042, F.S. General permits require cessation and notification to the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, should any prehistoric or historic resources be discovered during construction. General permits also contain conditions when performing work in waters that are accessible to listed species such as manatees.

General permits cover a wide range of activities, including the construction or installation of in-water structures, such as docks and boat ramps, or work in isolated wetlands associated with single-family residential properties (62-330.417 – .431 and .475, F.A.C.); roadway work, including bridge replacement, culverted driveways and roadway crossings, and stormwater retrofitting (62-330.439 – 451, F.A.C.); installation, repairs and maintenance of utility lines, and other related work (62-330.453 – .467, F.A.C.); environmental restoration and other minor activities by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Water Management Districts (62-330.483 – 488, F.A.C.); and mining and mining related activities (62-330.490 – .496, F.A.C.). Each specific general permit includes additional specific requirements. The former general permit for silvicultural activities is now authorized as a no-fee noticed exemption under Rule 62-330.0511, F.A.C.

Activities that comply with the general conditions of Rule 62-330.405, F.A.C., and the specific criteria and conditions for the particular general permit may be initiated 30 days after the agency receives the notices, unless:

  1. The agency acts sooner to notify the applicant that the activity qualifies for the general permit;
  2. The agency responds within 30 days after receiving the notice that the activity does not qualify for the general permit, or that additional information is needed to determine if the activity qualifies for the general permit; or
  3. The conditions of the general permit require written verification from the agency prior to initiating the activities.

If the activities do not qualify for a general permit, the $250 processing fee submitted for the general permit shall be applied to the processing fee required for an individual or conceptual approval permit if the person applies for such permit within 60 days of the agency’s determination of non-qualification (62-330.402(4), F.A.C.).

Tips to know when withdrawing an environmental resource permit application makes sense

Some people may have been involved with an environmental resource permit (ERP) project that encounters an engineering speed bump or a wetland hurdle that may take awhile to resolve. When challenges arise, the district makes every attempt to coordinate with applicants and consultants on projects to process permit applications and issue permits quickly. However, sometimes a project’s technical challenges cannot be addressed within a short time frame.

When the district issues a request for additional information (RAI), an ERP applicant has up to 90 days to provide the requested additional information, and may request an additional 90 days if the technical issues will take longer to address.

When the district does not receive a timely response to an RAI, the district may initiate the administrative denial process. However, at any point after applying, an applicant has the option to withdraw the ERP application, work out the encountered problems, and then re-apply for a permit. During this time, district staff will continue to work with the applicant and consultants to help address the project’s challenges and ensure prompt review when the application is re-submitted. If an applicant reapplies within one year of application withdrawal, the district shall transfer any previously received ERP application fees to the new application if the conditions of rule 62-330.071(3), Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.) are met. However, if an applicant does not withdraw the application and the application is administratively denied, then the application fee cannot be refunded or transferred. Thus, it makes sense and may benefit an applicant to withdraw an ERP application when a project encounters problems that cannot be overcome within the time frame to respond to an RAI.

Take note of the expiration date of your consumptive use permit

All consumptive use permits (CUPs) issued by the district contain permit conditions that govern the water use authorized by the permit. One of the most important conditions that is included on all CUPs is the permit expiration date.

It is the permittee’s responsibility to timely apply for renewal of the CUP if the water use is still active or needed. It is important to apply for renewal of your permit before the expiration date, because the duration of an expired CUP cannot be extended. In contrast, when a permittee timely reapplies, their CUP remains in effect until the district makes a decision on the renewal application. For your convenience, you can apply for renewal of your CUP at the district’s e-Permitting portal. You can create and maintain a login ID that allows you to submit application and compliance information. If a CUP needs to be renewed, it is helpful to contact district staff prior to submitting the permit renewal application form. Staff can meet with the permittee and assist with the permit renewal process.

Easy steps for submitting EN-50 reports

Submitting water use reports can be fast and simple using the district’s online permitting system, e-Permitting. District staff offer easy-to-follow directions in a new quick guide.