Dear Secretary Valenstein,
The passage of the 2020 Clean Waterways Act (Act) enabled several opportunities to improve water quality throughout the state. To reduce stormwater-related pollution, the Act requires the Department of Environmental Protection (Department) to take several actions aimed at improving the performance of stormwater systems and programs. In particular, the effort to update Florida’s stormwater design and operation regulations is of critical importance. In order to make the upcoming rulemaking as transparent and effective as possible, Audubon Florida requests that the Department consider convening a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to inform this process.
Engaging a TAC in the stormwater rulemaking process provides many benefits. Populated by the right mixture of qualified persons representing diverse groups, including representatives from the conservation community, the TAC would be an independent body that would foster discussion and build consensus amongst stakeholders. A TAC would allow discussion and development of consensus recommendations forged “in the sunshine” of public TAC meetings, where stakeholders and the public have the opportunity to comment and share information and resources.
The TAC can help parse diverse data as the state works towards the most effective and efficient updates to our stormwater regulations to improve water quality, especially pertaining to nitrogen and phosphorus nutrient pollution. An important role for the TAC would be to review the draft handbook created in 2010 during a similar rulemaking effort (though neither the rule nor the revised handbook were adopted). The process should include an analysis of results from areas like Alachua, Brevard and Pinellas counties that have implemented some of the recommendations from the 2010 process. Additionally, the TAC should consider new research and changes in our understanding of stormwater issues since the previous effort, as well as new technologies that may add tools to the stormwater toolbox.
Convening a knowledgeable and engaged TAC can also benefit the additional actions required of the Department by the Act. The TAC could assist in the review of the 10-2 self-certification process for stormwater systems, development of the model stormwater management program, or other Department efforts that would benefit from a thorough, independent, and public review. Finally, due to the importance of updating the stormwater design and operations criteria in a timely manner, we recommend that any TAC adhere to a review timeline that allows deliverables to be developed within six months.
Thank you for considering our comments. Please contact us if you have any questions.
VP and Executive Director Audubon Florida