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Publication #FE607

Handbook of Florida Water Regulation: Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act1

Michael T. Olexa, Tatiana Borisova, and Sean Crisafulli2


This handbook is designed to provide an accurate, current, and authoritative summary of the principal federal and state (Florida) laws that directly or indirectly relate to agriculture. This handbook provides a basic overview of the many rights and responsibilities that farmers and farmland owners have under both federal and state laws as well as the appropriate contact information to obtain more detailed information. However, the reader should be aware that because the laws, administrative rulings, and court decisions on which this handbook is based are subject to constant revision, portions of this publication could become outdated at any time. Several details of cited laws are also left out due to space limitations.

This handbook is distributed with the understanding that the authors are not engaged in rendering legal or other professional advice, and the information contained herein should not be regarded as a substitute for professional advice. This handbook is not all inclusive in providing information to achieve compliance with the federal and state laws and regulations governing water protection. For these reasons, the use of these materials by any person constitutes an agreement to hold harmless the authors, the UF/IFAS Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource law, the Florida Cooperative Extension Service, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, and the University of Florida for any liability claims, damages, or expenses that may be incurred by any person as a result of reference to or reliance on the information contained in this handbook.

FAWPCA Overview

The Florida Legislature enacted the Florida Air and Water Pollution Control Act (FAWPCA) in 1967, in recognition that pollution of Florida's air and water is a menace to public health and welfare; is harmful to wildlife; and impairs domestic, agricultural, industrial, and other uses of air and water. Since 1967, FAWPCA has been modified to reflect changing federal and state policies and rules, as well as changing environmental protection needs in Florida.

The purpose of FAWPCA is to conserve, protect, and improve the quality of Florida's waters for a variety of purposes, including public water supplies and preservation of wildlife, and to achieve and maintain levels of air quality that will protect human health and safety, plant and animal life, and property in order to promote the social and economic development of Florida. FAWPCA establishes the general framework for water and air quality regulations in Florida, including the description of the duties of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the recognition of the need to establish water quality standards, and the requirement to encourage industry to install new machinery and facilities to improve air and water quality as technology progresses even though such installations can be expensive.

Who enforces FAWPCA?

FDEP is the primary enforcer of FAWPCA, and is responsible for developing its rules and laws.

What are the duties of FDEP under FAWPCA?

FDEP has multiple duties under FAWPCA, including the duties to

  • Exercise general supervision of the administration and enforcement of the laws, rules, and regulations related to air and water pollution in Florida

  • Develop and approve plans to provide for air and water quality control and pollution abatement

  • Adopt a comprehensive program for the prevention, abatement, and control of pollution of the air and waters of Florida, and to review and modify this program as necessary

  • Classify Florida waters (Classes I–VI) based on the waters' designated uses (for more on designated uses and surface water quality standards, see Chapter 62-302, Florida Administrative Code)

  • Establish air and water quality standards for the state as a whole or specific regions based on the classes of Florida waters (for more on designated uses and surface water quality standards, see Chapter 62-302, Florida Administrative Code)

  • Take and test samples of air and water to determine the levels of air and water quality throughout Florida; FDEP is also authorized to determine the source of pollution if a sample collected is below air or water quality standards

  • Establish a permit requirement system for the operation, construction, or expansion of any installation that may be the source of air or water pollution, and provide for the issuance and revocation of such permits

  • Promote voluntary cooperation by persons or groups to protect air or water quality

  • Adopt the rules and requirements related to administration of the Federal National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permitting program in Florida (Note that NPDES permits are required for industrial, municipal, and agricultural pollution sources that discharge pollution into surface waters)

  • Encourage studies, investigations, and research related to pollution and its causes, effects, prevention, abatement, and control

  • Collect and disseminate information and conduct outreach activities related to water and air pollution

  • Implement programs to protect and restore Florida's water, including the implementation of land acquisition programs

  • Consult with any person proposing to construct, install, or otherwise acquire a pollution control device or system concerning the effectiveness of such device or system, or the pollution problem related to the source, device, or system

  • Establish rules that provide for the special category of water bodies within the state, known as Outstanding Florida Waters, which are worthy of special protection because of their natural attributes

  • Coordinate Florida's stormwater program

  • Establish and administer incentive programs related to pollution reduction

  • Exercise the duties, powers, and responsibilities required of the state under the Clean Air Act

For a complete list of the duties, powers, and requirements of FDEP under FAWPCA, contact FDEP.


Chapter 403, Florida Statutes, Sections 403.011 to 403.0611


The authors are indebted to the personnel of both state and federal agencies who provided their time and advice in the preparation of this handbook. We wish to acknowledge Carol Fountain and Travis Prescott at the University of Florida for their assistance in editing this handbook.



This is EDIS document FE607, a publication of the Food and Resource Economics Department, FUF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL. Published December 2005, revised June 2011 and April 2015. Please visit the EDIS website at


Michael T. Olexa, professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, and director, UF/IFAS Center for Agricultural and Natural Resource Law, University of Florida, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL, and member of The Florida Bar. Tatiana Borisova, assistant professor, Food and Resource Economics Department, University of Florida, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL. Sean Crisafulli, student, Levin College of Law, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.

The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) is an Equal Opportunity Institution authorized to provide research, educational information and other services only to individuals and institutions that function with non-discrimination with respect to race, creed, color, religion, age, disability, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, political opinions or affiliations. For more information on obtaining other UF/IFAS Extension publications, contact your county's UF/IFAS Extension office.

U.S. Department of Agriculture, UF/IFAS Extension Service, University of Florida, IFAS, Florida A & M University Cooperative Extension Program, and Boards of County Commissioners Cooperating. Nick T. Place, dean for UF/IFAS Extension.