By John R. Cassani, Chairman
Dear Mr. Guillory:
I am contacting you on behalf of the Southwest Florida Watershed Council about water quality in the tidal Caloosahatchee basin.
As you may know, FDEP adopted a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Caloosahatchee Estuary in August of 2009 due to verified impairment for nutrients (nitrogen). A Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) was developed and adopted to address the TMDL in December 2012. BMAP Section 1.5 Future Growth in the Watershed states:
“The ERP Program requires that all new discharges into the basin cannot increase existing loads. All ERP applications must include documentation demonstrating compliance with state water quality standards, as well as showing that the project does not adversely affect the quality of receiving waters resulting in water quality standard violations. The Caloosahatchee Estuary Basin includes impaired waters that do not currently meet state water quality standards; therefore, new development in the basin must demonstrate a net-improvement in nutrient loads to the waterbodies above the current condition of the development site.”
Currently there are a significant number of development projects in the Caloosahatchee Tidal BMAP Basin under ERP application review. Having reviewed a number of these ERP applications, there appears to be no documentation that the project will prevent an increase in existing loads to the impaired receiving water (Caloosahatchee Estuary) as required by the BMAP.
A review of the Lee County annual MS4 stormwater permit report indicates that nitrogen concentrations have been trending up in the Tidal Caloosahatchee Basin. Some of the highest concentrations of nitrogen have occurred during recent years despite completion of 90% of the first phase of the BMAP. Incurring additional nutrient loads to the estuary will require a longer and more expensive recovery.
The SWFWC requests that the SFWMD require all ERP applications in the Caloosahatchee Tidal BMAP basin demonstrate and document that a net improvement in nutrient loads to the Caloosahatchee.
Estuary will occur as required by the Caloosahatchee Estuary Basin BMAP. Until then we suggest that the SFWMD stop issuing ERP permits in the Caloosahatchee Tidal BMAP basin.
We look forward to your reply.