Water Quality Branch
Our Mission: To protect the water environment and its beneficial use.
We are responsible for the following areas:
Surface Water Quality: The Ambient Water Quality Section (AWQS) is the lead environmental agency collecting surface water quality data in Duval County. As such AWQS closely coordinates all of its monitoring activities with other agencies working in the area. All of the data collected by AWQS are regularly provided to state, regional and local agencies charged with permitting activities that may impact surface water quality. This information is available to the public upon request. The AWQS is also the lead agency responding to citizen complaints or fish kills for surface waters of the state in Duval County. Brief program descriptions and some water quality data are available at this site.
Wastewater Permitting: This permitting program is delegated to the city by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Under the current Specific Operating Agreement, the Water Quality Branch (WQB) is responsible for processing of permit applications for the construction of wastewater collection systems and the operation of wastewater treatment facilities with discharges to ground waters. Except for service connections, a permit is required for the construction of any sanitary gravity sewer or force main in Duval County. A permit is also required to construct and operate a wastewater treatment facility (WWTF)
Since the implementation of Environmental Protection Board (EPB) Rule 3 to phase-out less reliable package wastewater treatment plants by connecting to larger regional treatment facilities, 352 WWTF discharges have been removed, bringing the total inventory of wastewater treatment plants in Duval County from 393 in 1986 to 41 as of January 2004, including 22 regional facilities. Chart of Wastewater Facility Inventory in Duval County since implementation of Rule 3.
The removal of non-regional WWTFs means more than just the reduction in WWTF inventory; its effects on our water environment will be realized gradually for years to come. The removal of these discharges represents a reduction in pollutant loading on the receiving basins, lakes, creeks, and groundwater.
Sanitary Lift Stations: The WQB conducts regular inspections of sanitary lift stations for which it issues construction permits. Because of the low elevations throughout Duval County, wastewater generated by businesses and homes cannot always flow through sanitary sewer systems by gravity forces alone. In many systems, it is necessary to include lift stations to assist wastewater flow. Because of extensive construction activity throughout Duval County, the Water Quality Branch has been permitting a growing number of lift stations, all of which are regularly inspected to ensure compliance with local regulations. All sanitary lift stations are required to have certified operator attendance at least once a month. (List of lift station operators)
Wastewater Treatment Facilities Inspections: The WQB currently issues permits to and inspects wastewater treatment facilities in Duval County that discharge treated effluent to groundwater. This effluent must be treated to meet state standards to ensure that groundwater is not polluted or contaminated. WQB employees inspect these facilities on a regular schedule. Each inspection visit involves checking for proper record keeping, mechanical components and taking effluent samples for compliance with permit standards.
Stormwater Management Systems: The proper management of stormwater runoff has become a growing concern for pollution-control agencies in Florida. Stormwater runoff often contains pollutants which can damage surface waters if it is directly discharged into them. Stormwater management systems are designed to collect and treat this runoff before it can pollute surface waters.
Erosion and Sediment Controls for Construction Sites: Turbid discharges from construction sites can flow into surface waters, thus damaging aquatic life by blocking out sunlight. These discharges can also kill grass beds in surface waters. The WQB currently inspects construction sites throughout Duval County to ensure that proper erosion and sediment control measures are in place, thus minimizing the potential for discharges of turbidity. The inspection program has over 300 construction sites on file and the list is growing at the rate of four per week.
The problem of erosion and reduced water quality is an old one in Jacksonville, and the subject has been addressed for many years. The city's Nonpoint Source Section has become known as a group of local experts in the construction field, and has been responsible for changes in the way construction is performed within the county. For instance, utilization of best management practices for erosion control are now routinely incorporated, and are included as line items in contracts. Enforcement of water quality violations due to erosion related problems has been dramatically reduced. The branch's inspection and enforcement program has been recognized by DEP as a model for the state, and portions of the city's Erosion and Sediment Control Inspector's Guide has been adopted by DEP for inclusion in their new inspector's certification program.
Solid Waste Management: The branch participates with the city's Solid Waste Division in reviewing applications for Certificates of Public Convenience and Necessity. Anyone using property in Duval County for solid waste disposal or management must obtain a certificate. By assisting in the review of these applications, the Water Quality Branch helps ensure that solid waste operations meet environmental quality standards.
Citizen's Reports of Pollution: The WQB investigates reports regarding pollution events or activities by others. The WQB also addresses discharge of pollutants to stormdrains, ditches, rivers or creeks; over-flowing manholes or pump stations; uncontrolled erosion from land clearing activities or pumping of muddy water into creeks, storm drains, or ditches; and fish kills in natural bodies of water (not stormwater ponds). While the branch has a goal of responding to complaints within 24 hours, many investigations actually are conducted on the same day as the complaint is received.
Regulatory Assistance: WQB enforces the rules and standards contained in Environmental Protection Board (EPB) Rules 3 and 7, in order to protect the quality of water for all citizens in Duval County. The WQB can provide information on the Rules and answer questions concerning their applicability. The Rules basically cover the areas of wastewater facilities (permitting, operation and regionalization), pump stations, stormwater ponds, wells (construction and location), water quality standards, and water pollution.
Chemical Pollution: (904) 255-7171. For 24-hour emergency response - call 911.
Water Pollution: (904) 255-7100
Groundwater Contamination: (904) 255-7100
Ambient Water Quality Information: (904) 255-7100
Water Well Information: (904) 255-7100