Fla. Admin. Code Ann. R. 62-650.500 - WQBEL Level II Process

Current through Reg. 47, No. 249; December 28, 2021

(1) The WQBEL Level II Process is a means of determining the available assimilative capacity of a water body and setting WQBELs utilizing appropriate procedures for simulation and prediction of water quality impacts which may include computer modeling and other scientific methodology. Computer models utilized include those approved and supported by the Department or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and which have the capability to predict impacts from stormwater contributions. These models include appropriate margins of safety, as referred to in the definition of loading capacity, to account for unknowns in water quality sampling and modeling.
(2) The WQBEL Level II Process is utilized to determine new discharge permit limits and to evaluate permit renewals when existing water quality data is insufficient to evaluate expected water quality impacts or when the available assimilative capacity of the water body is being completely utilized, or might reasonably be expected to be completely utilized by the discharge, either by itself, or in combination with other discharges to the receiving water body.
(3) When a WQBEL Level II Process is determined to be necessary, the analysis shall consider and determine WQBELs for the permit applicant and all affected discharger(s) to the receiving body of water.
(4) WQBELs established via this process are established for parameters for which water quality standards have been adopted as determined in subsection 62-650.100(2), F.A.C. For permitting purposes, the WQBELs determined by the WQBEL Level II Process will be considered valid for a period of five years, and may be entered by the Department in a permit or by separate final order. Further, these WQBELs may be determined with seasonal or other variations, if appropriate.
(5) When a WQBEL is to be determined by the Level II Process, the applicant shall coordinate with the Department to determine the information required, accepted methods of data collection and analysis, and quality control/quality assurance requirements. The ensuing plan of study shall be approved in writing by the Department and shall be binding upon the Department and the applicant. During the course of the study, the plan of study may be amended by written agreement between the Department and the applicant. The applicant shall coordinate with the Department during the study and shall present the study results to the Department. Failure to comply with the plan of study may result in the Department's rejection of some or all of the data. The analyses may include mathematical water quality computer modeling or other evaluation procedures approved by the Department that are necessary for the Department to develop WQBELs. Prior to conducting such analyses, the applicant shall coordinate with the Department to determine the analyses required, accepted methods of analyses including any computer models to be used, and quality control/quality assurance requirements, all of which shall be incorporated in the plan of study.
(a) The Department shall provide the information on ambient water quality and the analysis of information necessary for establishing WQBELs for renewal of operation permits for existing dischargers under the following condition:
1. When there are two or more existing dischargers on the receiving body of water whose zones of impact are expected to overlap, the Department will conduct the initial data collection and analysis necessary to determine WQBELs for all affected discharges. For subsequent renewals of their operation permits, each of these dischargers whose design discharge capacity is 1 MGD or greater will be responsible for data collection and analysis necessary for the Department to establish WQBELs. The Department will provide data collection and analysis for the renewal of operation permits for each of these dischargers whose design discharge is less than 1 MGD. The timing of such studies and analysis, when done by the Department, will be based on the availability of Department resources. Nothing in this paragraph shall preclude the Department from requiring water quality monitoring as a condition of an operation permit for any discharge.
2. Nothing shall prevent a permit applicant from conducting the required data collection or analysis in accordance with the procedures in this section.
(b) When the receiving water body does not meet water quality standards set forth in Chapter 62-3, F.A.C., the plan of study may include collection and analysis of data necessary to evaluate an application for a variance or other relief provision under department rules or statutes. The inclusion of such data does not imply that such relief will be granted by the Department.
(6) The Department or applicant, prior to initiating a water quality study or analysis as part of the Level II process, shall publish a Notice of Proposed Water Quality Study.
(a) The notice shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the area in which the study will take place and in the Florida Administrative Weekly. The notice shall be published one time only, no less than 14 days prior to the date the study is proposed to commence and shall state the location of the receiving water or segment thereof under study, the name(s) of the known affected discharger(s) into the receiving water, the location of the Department's file, and when it is available for public inspection. An opportunity to review the proposed plan of study will be provided on request.
(b) A copy of the notice shall be provided by the Department by mail to each known affected discharger. Such notice shall be mailed at least 19 days prior to the date the study is proposed to commence. Failure to notify any affected discharger shall not be grounds for challenging the validity of the plans of study or analysis or the WQBELs established as a result of such study or analysis.
(c) In response to comments received pertaining to the plan of study prior to the proposed commencement date, the Department or applicant, by mutual agreement, may revise the plan of study if necessary. Upon approval by the Department of any revisions to the plan of study, the applicant shall conduct the study for purposes of establishing WQBELs for each affected discharger.
(d) Although the Department may allow for informal dispute resolution during the study period, the study is free-form agency decision making and does not constitute proposed agency action until notice of such is given pursuant to subsection 62-650.500(8), F.A.C.
(7) Upon completion of the Level II data collection and analysis process, a final technical report shall be prepared by the Department. The document shall list or describe all appropriate information and data used by the Department in determining the WQBEL including a description of the project site and limits of the receiving body of water, background information, permitting status of the discharger(s), the water quality parameters considered, the water quality data evaluated, the procedures used to determine the WQBEL, and other appropriate information as set forth in the plan of study. A copy of the report shall be a part of the permit file.
(8) After the Department has reviewed the WQBEL technical report and evaluated other factors as indicated above, the district office shall issue a notice of proposed agency action pursuant to Rule 62-103.150, F.A.C., and provide notice to the affected dischargers, and any other parties substantially affected by the WQBEL technical report. This notice shall set forth those WQBELs that have been established by the Level II process and may include any conditions or monitoring requirements to be imposed on the affected discharge(s). The notice shall include a statement indicating the date by which compliance with the requirements of the notice must be achieved. Compliance with WQBELs as set forth in the letter of notice may be required:
(a) For Existing Dischargers:
1. Within 90 days of final agency action when public health impacts or serious adverse environmental impacts are occurring with the present discharge (modification of the existing permit pursuant to Rule 62-4.080, F.A.C., may be initiated depending upon the severity of the impact), or
2. Within a period of time defined in a compliance schedule based on a consideration of the current or potential environmental and public health impacts of the discharge or other permitting factors, or
3. At the time of the next operating permit renewal.
(b) For Proposed Dischargers: At the time of the issuance of a construction permit for a new discharger.
(9) The Department shall issue a final order, which may be a permit, setting forth the effluent limits and permitting requirements and the required date of compliance with the specified requirements. The requirements thereof shall be final and binding for a period of five years except as provided for in subsection 62-650.500(10), F.A.C., below. All permits issued during that time shall be in conformity with the order establishing the WQBELs. Other permit provisions shall be established at the time a permit is issued.
(10) The Department may modify the WQBELs that are established by this process under the same circumstances and by the same procedures as are specified for permit modifications under Rules 62-4.080 and subsection 62-4.242(2), F.A.C.


Fla. Admin. Code Ann. R. 62-650.500
Specific Authority 403.051, 403.061, 403.062, 403.087, 403.088 FS. Law Implemented 403.021, 403.051, 403.061, 403.062, 403.085, 403.086, 403.087, 403.088 FS.
New 11-27-89, Formerly 17-650.500.

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