States in development and enforcement of state regulations for environmental protection. Detection in 1983 of aldicarb and ethylene dibromide, two nematocides used widely in Florida's citrus groves, crystallized the growing concerns over ground water contamination and the need to protect this vital natural resource. In 1983, the Florida legislature passed the Water Quality Assurance Act, and in 1984 adopted the State and Regional Planning Act. These and subsequent legislative actions provide the legal basis and guidance for the Ground Water Strategy developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation (DER).

Ground water protection programs in Florida are implemented at federal, state, regional, and local levels and involve both regulatory and nonregulatory approaches. The most significant nonregulatory effort involves more than 30 ground water studies being conducted in collaboration with the Water Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey. At the state level, Florida statutes and administrative codes form the basis for regulatory actions. Although DER is the primary agency responsible for rules and statutes designed to protect ground water, the following state agencies participate to varying degrees in their implementation: five water management districts, the Florida Geological Survey, the Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services (HRS), the Department of Natural Resources, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS). In addition, certain interagency committees help coordinate the development and implementation of environmental codes in the state. A prominent example is the Pesticide Review Council which offers guidance to the DACS in developing pesticide use regulation. A method for screening pesticides in terms of their chronic toxicity and environmental behavior has been developed through collaborative efforts of the DACS, the DER, and the HRS (Britt et al. 1992). This method will be used to grant registration for pesticide use in Florida or to seek additional site-specific field data.

Selecting an Approach

The emphasis of the DER ground water program has shifted in recent years from primarily enforcement activity to a technically based, quantifiable, planned approach for resource protection.

The administrative philosophy for ground water protection programs in Florida is guided by the following principles:

  • Ground water is a renewable resource, necessitating a balance between withdrawals and natural or artificial recharge.

  • Ground water contamination should be prevented to the maximum degree possible because cleanup of contaminated aquifers is technically or economically infeasible.

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