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TMDL Case Study: The Value of Stakeholder Involvement - St. Johns River, Florida

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The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is developing a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for the Lower St. Johns River Basin in Northeast Florida. This process was initiated as a result of excess nutrients in the river, primarily nitrogen, that have resulted in harmful algal blooms and a corresponding reduction in submerged aquatic vegetation coverage and occasional depressed D.O. levels. As mandated by law, the FDEP plans to involve stakeholders during the process of setting the TMDL and allocating the available resources.

While the FDEP is planning for stakeholder participation in the TMDL process, no specific criteria exist that specify how stakeholder involvement will occur. Because of the lack of a stakeholder plan and the complexity of the TMDL development process, the First Coast Manufacturers Association (FCMA) made the decision to become actively involved early in the TMDL development process. FCMA involvement provides direct stakeholder participation under the umbrella of a Technical Advisory Group. Under this approach, individual stakeholders benefit through cost sharing, cooperative development of goals and objectives, and reduced conflict over the allocation of local resources.

Although the development of the Lower St. Johns River Basin TMDL is far from complete, key stakeholder involvement has already resulted in better communication between the regulated public and the FDEP. Peer review and oversight provided by the FCMA will ultimately result in a more accurate and defensible TMDL. This paper will review the process used by the FCMA to develop a proactive, scientifically based process to participate in development of a defensible, scientifically based TMDL for the Lower St. Johns River Basin. The FCMA experience in the TMDL process provides an excellent example that other stakeholder can follow when faced with the issue of gaining meaningful input into any TMDL process.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2002

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