Navigating the Storm: Recent Legislative Changes in Florida’s Stormwater Management

In the dynamic landscape of stormwater management, municipalities in Florida are facing significant legislative changes that call for proactive adaptation. The state’s commitment to water quality improvement has ushered in a series of modifications affecting stormwater design, NPDES permits, and wastewater treatment. ETM Project Manager Alexa Graf, PE, shares insights into recent legislative developments, their impact on municipalities, and practical tips to navigate the evolving stormwater regulatory environment. 

The Clean Waterways Act (SB-712) 

The Clean Waterways Act, enacted in Florida in 2020, stands as a pivotal piece of legislation directing the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to enhance stormwater design, wastewater treatment rules, and Onsite Sewage Treatment and Disposal Systems (OSTDS). The FDEP has proposed rule changes and the Legislature has ratified these changes (HB 7053/SB 7040), which include stringent treatment designs and additional requirements for discharges into Outstanding Florida Waters. These changes necessitate municipalities to align their stormwater assets with the new standards. 

NPDES Permit Rule Changes 

NPDES Phase I and II permit adjustments bring forth increased inspection frequencies for stormwater structures, inventorying of minor outfalls, and a thorough evaluation of catch basins. The heightened scrutiny demands municipalities to dedicate more resources to compliance, including additional staff and increased maintenance efforts.  

Challenges and Opportunities for Municipalities 

The intensified requirements in the newly finalized NPDES Phase I permits, such as more frequent inspections, catch basin evaluations, and minor outfall identification pose challenges for municipalities. These compliance demands can affect staff workloads and strain municipal resources and budgets. However, some legislation provides grant opportunities that municipalities can leverage to enhance their stormwater management practices. 

Staying Informed 

The key to staying ahead of evolving legislation is staying informed. Oganizations, such as the Florida Stormwater Association, not only track legislation but also educates its members on the evolving regulatory landscape. Regular training sessions and workshops can empower municipal staff to understand and implement the changes effectively. 

Emerging Trends and Future Changes 

The horizon holds new Advanced Wastewater Treatment priorities and plans to phase out conventional septic systems in designated areas. Municipalities should be prepared for ongoing updates and actively engage in planning for upgrades to advanced wastewater treatment facilities. 

As we collectively work towards cleaner waterways, effective stormwater management remains a cornerstone for sustainable and resilient communities. As a result, the stormwater management landscape in Florida is undergoing transformative changes, demanding a proactive and informed approach from municipalities. By staying aware of legislative updates, collaborating with industry associations, and strategically allocating resources, municipalities can navigate the challenges and harness the opportunities presented by these legislative changes.  

About Alexa Graf, Project Manager

Alexa GrafAlexa Graf is a Project Manager at ETM. She joined ETM in 1999 and has 32 year of experience in civil and environmental engineering. She is proficient in National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit administration, program management, drainage project management, grant research and writing, consumptive use permitting, development of regional impact permit applications, land acquisition management, groundwater remediation system design, and environmental permitting and compliance.

About England-Thims & Miller, Inc.     

ETM, founded in 1977, is Florida’s leading infrastructure and development consulting firm. Their services include planning, development consulting, geospatial technologies, traffic and transportation engineering, water and utilities, construction management and surveying. Focused on serving as “Trusted Advisors, Creating Community,” they provide solutions to public and private sector clients throughout Florida. For more information, visit


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