Michelle Hopkins is a Florida registered professional engineer and is the regulation division director.

By Michelle Hopkins P.E., Regulation Division Director

The Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) uses regulatory programs to better manage stormwater, provide flood protection and protect water resources such as wetlands, rivers, lakes, estuaries and groundwater supplies. Regulation staff at the District evaluate Environmental Resource Permit (ERP), Water Use Permit (WUP) and Well Construction Permit (WCP) applications and compliance information. Regulation Division Director Michelle Hopkins explained the different types of permits the District issues and why they are needed.

Q: Why does the District issue permits?

A: Water is a public resource that belongs to all of us. However, fresh water is not limitless. Excessive water withdrawals can harm the resources. District permitting benefits residents, property owners and businesses by reducing the risk of flooding and protecting water quality and water supplies for current and future generations.

Q: Do I need a District permit? And if so, what type of permit do I need?

A: If you want to withdraw large quantities of water, develop property or construct a well, there’s a good chance you’ll need a District permit.

Water use permits allow the withdrawal of specific quantities of groundwater or surface water for limited periods of time under certain conditions. You need a water use permit if:

• You plan to withdraw more than 100,000 gallons per day.
• The outside diameter of your groundwater well is 6 inches or larger.
• The outside diameter of your withdrawal pipe from a surface water body is 4 inches or larger.
• The total withdrawal capacity of your system is 1 million gallons per day or larger.

Environmental resource permits (ERPs) ensure that a new development properly treats stormwater runoff to remove pollutants, compensates for any losses in floodplain storage, mitigates for any impacts to wetlands and does not increase the rate of stormwater runoff onto neighboring properties. You need an ERP if your construction project:

• Disrupts wetlands
• Encroaches on a floodplain
• Increases, decreases or diverts stormwater runoff
• Contributes to water pollution

Well construction permits are required prior to installation of a well within the District. The permits ensure that wells are constructed by qualified contractors and meet rigid safety and durability standards. Generally, a withdrawal for personal domestic use for an individual home is small enough to fall below the threshold for requiring a water use permit. However, if you are constructing a well, your water well contractor will still need to get a well construction permit.

Q: Where do I get my permit?

A: You can apply for a permit at watermatters.org/permits or by submitting a permit application to your local District service office.

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