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DEP to hold public meetings for input on water restoration work plans

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On Feb. 25 in Live Oak, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will kick off a series of six meetings around Florida to take public input on the Department’s water quality assessment and restoration priorities over the next two years.

To restore and protect Florida’s surface waters, the Department collects water quality data through its own monitoring programs and with the help of other agencies. The data are then analyzed to determine which rivers, lakes, streams, springs, and estuaries do not meet Florida’s water quality standards and are thus “impaired.”

For each impaired waterbody or group of related waters, the Department develops and adopts a scientifically derived restoration target, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load. Based on the target, the Department, in conjunction with local stakeholders, develops and implements a restoration plan to return the waterbody to health.

At the public meetings, key Department staff will explain the assessment and restoration process and present the Department's proposed 2014 strategic monitoring plan. They will also present the preliminary two-year work plan for establishing TMDLs in local watersheds.

The Department will also share information on a new analytical tool, developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and adopted by the state, which was used in developing the preliminary work plans. The tool accounts for multiple factors affecting restoration such as the natural characteristics of the watershed, the pollutant of concern and the severity of the pollution problem, and key social factors that may influence success. These factors were weighted and the results used to help identify what problems to tackle first. Public input on the results will be solicited at each meeting locale. Workshops will be held:

LIVE OAK
DATE AND TIME: Tuesday, February 25, 2014, 10:30 A.M. to 1:30 P.M. (EST)
PLACE: Suwannee River Water Management District Headquarters, Governing Board Meeting Room, 9225 County Road (CR) 49, Live Oak, FL, 32060

WEST PALM BEACH
DATE AND TIME: Wednesday, March 5, 2014, 12:30 P.M. to 3:30 P.M. (EST)
PLACE: South Florida Water Management District Headquarters, B1 Auditorium, 3301 Gun Club Road, West Palm Beach, FL, 33406

FORT MYERS
DATE AND TIME: Thursday, March 6, 2014, 11:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M. (EST)
PLACE: South Florida Water Management District Lower West Coast Service Center, Main Conference Room, 2301 McGregor Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL, 33901

PENSACOLA
DATE AND TIME: Thursday, March 13, 2014, 12:30 P.M. (CST) to 3:30 P.M. (CST)
PLACE: Florida Department of Environmental Protection Northwest District Office, Conference Room 101, 1st Floor, 160 W. Government St. Pensacola, FL, 32502

ORLANDO
DATE AND TIME: Tuesday, March 25, 2014, 2:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. (EST)
PLACE: Florida Department of Environmental Protection Central District Office, Conference Rooms A, B, and C, 3319 Maguire Boulevard, Suite 232, Orlando, FL, 32803

BARTOW
DATE AND TIME: Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 8:30 A.M. to 11:30 A.M. (EST)
PLACE: Southwest Florida Water Management District Bartow Service Office, Bartow Board Room, 170 Century Boulevard, Bartow, FL, 33637