From Sarasota Bay Estuary Program director Dave Tomasko:
Yesterday, we had our first meeting with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) staff in Tallahassee, related to our proposed approach for developing the Reasonable Assurance Plan (RAP) for Sarasota Bay. As you likely know, a RAP is a locally led version of a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). A TMDL is an effort typically led by FDEP or the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (or their consultants) to develop an estimate of pollutant loads, their impact on water quality, and the load reductions necessary for a waterbody to come into compliance with the water quality standards set for its designated use. Many of our bay segments are “impaired” for the amount of algae in the water column, and so our choices were to either sit back and let someone else take the lead on this process, or to lead it ourselves.
We brought this topic up to our Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC), Technical Advisory COmmittee (TAC), Management Board and Policy Board, and the widespread consensus was that the locally-led version was the way to go – similar to the process undertaken by our adjacent National Estuary Program (NEP) up in Tampa Bay. The RAP process allows us to get to “cleaner water, quicker” because we’ve got so much data collected and compiled and analyzed and interpreted, and our consultants have developed an excellent pollutant loading model for our bay.
Yesterday, we had our first meeting with FDEP staff in Tallahassee, to find out if there were any concerns about our proposed methods.