National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES):
Under the Federal Clean Water Act , counties and municipalities are required to reduce the amount of stormwater pollution entering our waters. Each government agency is issued a stormwater permit, also known as a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit.
Pinellas County and 23 of its municipalities operate under NPDES permit requirements ever since whichinclude:
Surface waters of the United States must be evaluated to ensure they’re in good health. Any waterbody that is deemed impaired (or unhealthy) based on specific criteria must be improved, using a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) issued by the state or federal government.
What is a TMDL?
A TMDL is a calculation of the maximum amount of a pollutant that a waterbody can receive and still meet State Water Quality Standards (remain “healthy”). The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the EPA use TMDLs as regulatory tools to ensure waters are returned to a healthy state. Local governments must then implement projects on a strict schedule to reduce pollutants and restore the health of the waters based on the TMDL.
Why TMDLs are important to Pinellas County:
Pinellas County has a large number and variety of surface waters, from lakes and rivers to estuaries, and is also very densely populated. This results in significant stormwater pollution to our waters. At this time, nearly all waterbodies in Pinellas County are considered impaired.
TMDL Status in Pinellas County:
There are currently 47 TMDLs in Pinellas County: 24 are for fecal bacteria, and 23 are for dissolved oxygen and/or nutrients. The County and its municipal partners are working towards implementing plans to address these TMDLs. Every five years, TMDL watersheds are ranked and prioritized for plans to improve water quality. Bacteria Pollution Control Plans (BPCPs) are drafted for watersheds with bacteria TMDLs, and TMDL Implementation Plans (TIPs) are written for watersheds with nutrient and/or dissolved oxygen TMDLs.