Understanding criteria for environmental resource general permits

Boat dock

With permitting rules updated under the Statewide Environmental Resource Permitting Program, district staff are available to assist in determining if a project requires a district permit.

Under the new statewide environmental resource permit (SWERP) rules in Chapter 62-330, Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C.), environmental resource permit (ERP) activities fit into one of three categories: Sub-Threshold (those which fall below the permit threshold in Rule 62-330.020, F.A.C.); Exempt Activities (regulated activities that are exempted from obtaining a permit based on specific criteria in Rule 62-330.051, F.A.C.) and Regulated Activities (activities that are not exempted and trip a threshold listed in 62-330.020, F.A.C.). A general permit, under Rule 62-330.401, F.A.C., authorizes certain ERP activities that, if conducted in accordance with the permit criteria, have minimal individual and cumulative impacts to water resources (including wetlands and other surface waters) and do not require mitigation. Notably, the “10/2” general permit in Section 403.814(12), Florida Statutes(F.S.), is not a general permit under Chapter 62-330, F.A.C.

To qualify for a general permit, the proposed activity must comply with the General Conditions outlined in Rule 62-330.405, F.A.C. Many of the conditions are designed to minimize environmental impacts by minimizing dredging or filling, preventing water quality violations, or preventing damage to submerged aquatic vegetation. Additionally, activities authorized by a general permit shall not: impede navigation or create a navigational hazard; impound or obstruct existing water flow, or cause flooding; or cause adverse impact to the maintenance of surface or groundwater levels or surface water flows (minimum flows and levels) established pursuant to Section 373.042, F.S. General permits require cessation and notification to the Florida Department of State, Division of Historical Resources, should any prehistoric or historic resources be discovered during construction. General permits also contain conditions when performing work in waters that are accessible to listed species such as manatees.

General permits cover a wide range of activities, including the construction or installation of in-water structures, such as docks and boat ramps, or work in isolated wetlands associated with single-family residential properties (62-330.417 – .431 and .475, F.A.C.); roadway work, including bridge replacement, culverted driveways and roadway crossings, and stormwater retrofitting (62-330.439 – 451, F.A.C.); installation, repairs and maintenance of utility lines, and other related work (62-330.453 – .467, F.A.C.); environmental restoration and other minor activities by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and Water Management Districts (62-330.483 – 488, F.A.C.); and mining and mining related activities (62-330.490 – .496, F.A.C.). Each specific general permit includes additional specific requirements. The former general permit for silvicultural activities is now authorized as a no-fee noticed exemption under Rule 62-330.0511, F.A.C.

Activities that comply with the general conditions of Rule 62-330.405, F.A.C., and the specific criteria and conditions for the particular general permit may be initiated 30 days after the agency receives the notices, unless:

  1. The agency acts sooner to notify the applicant that the activity qualifies for the general permit;
  2. The agency responds within 30 days after receiving the notice that the activity does not qualify for the general permit, or that additional information is needed to determine if the activity qualifies for the general permit; or
  3. The conditions of the general permit require written verification from the agency prior to initiating the activities.

If the activities do not qualify for a general permit, the $250 processing fee submitted for the general permit shall be applied to the processing fee required for an individual or conceptual approval permit if the person applies for such permit within 60 days of the agency’s determination of non-qualification (62-330.402(4), F.A.C.).