Regulatory Agencies Needed for Canal Work

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS)

A Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) permit is required for projects that would otherwise not be allowed because they are prohibited by sanctuary regulations. FKNMS also has the ability to issue a letter of authorization for a permit issued by any federal, state, or local authority with jurisdiction over a project. FKNMS requires the same completed forms, drawings, and other pertinent documents required by Army Corps of Engineers, Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) in order to review projects and determine if impacts to sanctuary resources will occur. The dredging or removal of canal plugs is prohibited by one or more FKNMS regulations.

NOAA Fisheries Requirements

Army Corps of Engineers and Florida DEP typically forward projects to FKNMS for review once they have received the required documentation.

Army Corps of Engineers

Send the completed forms, drawings and pertinent documents directly to the SEAPPLS@usace.army.mil centralized email address. A Corps representative will contact you once the request has been entered and assigned to a Corps project manager.

Commencement of the proposed work prior to Department of the Army authorization would constitute a violation of Federal laws and subject you to possible enforcement action. Receipt of a permit from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Water Management District or local municipality does not obviate the requirement for obtaining a Department of the Army permit prior to commencing the proposed work.

Miami Permits Section

Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

The application process to obtain DEP ERP permits for projects on wetlands and submerged lands. Before submitting a permit application, it is recommended the applicant requests a pre-application meeting with DEP staff to assist with the permit application process and to make sure the applicant understands the permitting requirements. 

South District Permitting with frequently asked questions and the links to the permit application forms: https://floridadep.gov/south/sd-permitting#FAQ

The application should be submitted to the following e-mail address: SD_ERP_Permit@dep.state.fl.us

Marathon Office Permit Processor

Fort Myers Office Permitting Program Administrator

  • Megan Mills
  • 239-344-5670

Below is a general outline with the ERP permitting criteria for removing a natural or man-made barrier (“plug”) separating a canal or canal system from Adjacent Waters. 

  1. The removal of a natural or manmade barrier separating a canal or canal system from adjacent waters requires an Environmental resource Permit under Part IV of Chapter 373, Florida Statutes. This activity is not included in the Maintenance Dredging Exemption provided under Section 403.813(1)(f), Florida statutes, F.S.
  2. Requires proof of ownership of submerged lands (deed) – Any work in, on, or over state-owned submerged lands, requires authorization under Chapters 253 and 258, F.S., and Chapters 18-18, 18-20, and 18-21, Florida Administrative Code, F.A.C., as applicable.
  3. The applicant will be required to implement adequate best management practices (BMP) to protect water quality during construction.
  4. Requires the applicant to provide reasonable assurance that the project will not cause or contribute to violations of water quality standards in receiving waters, pursuant to Chapter 62-302, F.A.C. In the Florida Keys, the ambient waters adjacent to man-made canals are classified as Outstanding Florida Waters and subject to special protection under State law. Hydrographic information will need to show that there will be no impacts to the environment and water quality from the alteration of water flows within the system
  5. Needs to demonstrate the project is designed to minimize environmental impacts and mitigation may be required to offset any unavoidable impacts to resources such as mangroves and benthic communities.
  6. Pursuant to the Coastal Zone Management Act, the application will be subject to review by other State agencies including the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (FDEO) and the Florida Department of State.

South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) 

Requirements for such ERP applications, to be added to the compiled agencies requirements information

In accordance with the Operating Agreement between the SFWMD and the Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), the SFWMD will be the reviewing agency whenever the canal plug removal is part of a larger plan of other commercial or residential development that has received or requires a permit under Part IV of Chapter 373, Florida Statutes.

The most basic information that would be required in an ERP application submitted to the SFWMD would include the following. And once the following information is submitted and reviewed by SFWMD staff, additional information might be required:

  • Provide legal documentation, such as a recorded warranty deed, which provides satisfactory evidence of the applicant’s title in the project area and legal ability to obtain a permit for the subject project area. [Rule 62-330.060(3), FAC.
    • If no legal documentation can be obtained regarding ownership of the project area, please provide a signed and dated letter from an official representative of Monroe County which indicates that there is no title for the project area, and that Monroe County does not claim the area.
  • Provide a completed Application for Individual Environmental Resource Permit/Authorization to Use State-Owned Submerged Lands form - Form 62-330.060(1). [Rule 62-330.060(3), FAC]
  • In order to provide reasonable assurance that the removal of the upland plug from the canal will increase the flow of water and flushing the canal, will increase marine productivity, and will be conducted solely for environmental restoration and enhancement activities, please address the following items regarding these matters. [Subparagraph 40E-1.607(3)(a)4,XII, FAC]
  • Provide detailed narrative information, and associated figures/plans/sketches/hydrographic study as applicable, which clearly demonstrates that the proposed project is designed and implemented solely to improve the quality and condition of currently degraded wetlands or other surface waters to a more healthy, functional, and sustaining condition for fish wildlife, and listed species.
  • Once District staff has reviewed the information requested above and has verified that the proposed project is designed and implemented solely for environmental restoration and enhancement activities, please provide the appropriate application fee.
  • Provide reasonable assurance that the proposed removal of the upland canal plug will not adversely affect downstream water quality or violate state water quality standards for Outstanding Florida Waters.
  • Specifically, please provide a hydrographic study to demonstrate that pollutants leaving the unplugged canal will be adequately dispersed in the downstream receiving water body so as to not cause or contribute to violations of water quality standards based on circulation patterns and flushing characteristics of the receiving water body. The level and type of hydrographic information that will be required will be determined based upon an analysis of site-specific characteristics of the canal and receiving water body. As compared to sites that flush in less than four days, sites where the flushing time is greater than four days generally will require additional, more complex levels of hydrographic studies or information to determine whether water quality standards can be expected to be violated by the facility. The degree and complexity of the hydrographic study will be dependent upon the types of considerations listed below, including the potential for the canal, based on its design and location, to add pollutants to the receiving waters. Types of information that can be required include site-specific measurements of waterway geometry, tidal amplitude, the periodicity of forces that drive water movement at the site, and water tracer studies that document specific circulation patterns.
  • The hydrologic study must document the flushing time (the time required to reduce the concentration of a conservative pollutant to ten percent of its original concentration) of the water in the canal. This information is used to determine the likelihood that the canal will accumulate pollutants to the extent that water quality violations will occur. Generally, a flushing time of less than or equal to four days is the maximum that is desirable. However, the evaluation of the maximum desirable flushing time also takes into consideration the size and configuration of the canal; the amplitude and periodicity of the tide; the geometry of the subject water body; the circulation and flushing of the canal; the quality of the waters in the canal; the type and nature of the docking facility; and the number and type of other sources of water pollution in the area.
  • District staff recommends that the applicant consults with the District prior to obtaining hydrologic information or conducting a hydrologic study. [AH I, 10.2.4.3(a-e)]
  • In instances where the applicant is unable to meet the water quality standards referenced above because proposed ambient water quality will not meet standards, and the activity will cause the condition, mitigation for water quality impacts can consist of water quality enhancement that achieves a net improvement. In these cases, the applicant must propose and agree to implement mitigation measures that will cause a net improvement of the water quality in the receiving waters for those contributed parameters that do not meet water quality standards. [AH I, 8.2.3]
  • Please provide a detailed bathymetric survey which depicts the existing water depths in the canal. The bathymetric survey should identify mean high and mean low water elevations, and seafloor bottom elevations which are measured at the top of silt and the level of refusal. [AH I, 10.2.7]
  • Please provide detailed and scaled project plans which depict the existing and proposed conditions of the project area. [Rule 62-330.060(2), FAC]
  • Please provide an environmental assessment which includes the locations, acreages, and descriptions of the existing submerged aquatic habitats and conditions within the canal upstream of the existing plug and within the canal downstream of the existing plug. [AH I, 10.2]
  • Please provide a mitigation proposal to offset any proposed adverse impacts to the mangrove(s), seagrasses, and/or hardbottom communities, in accordance with the requirements outlined in the Applicant’s Handbook Volume I, Section 10.3, and the Uniform Mitigation Assessment Method (UMAM), Chapter 62-345, FAC.
  • Please provide a detailed description of the proposed construction methodology that will be utilized for building the proposed project. [Rule 62-330.060(2), FAC] 
  • Specifically, please provide reasonable assurance the proposed construction methodology (access to construction areas, equipment to/from/within construction areas and building activities) will not result in adverse secondary impacts to the adjacent wetlands and other surface waters.
  • Please provide plans or sketches which identify the location, types, and details of proposed erosion/sediment/turbidity control measures which will be implemented during construction activities. [AH I, 11.0]
  • Please indicate what measures the applicant will utilize during construction activities to ensure the safety and protection of the manatee, sea turtles and saltwater crocodile, which are all listed threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. [AH I, 10.2.2]

Similar to those agencies, receipt of a permit issued by another federal, state, or local authority does not obviate the requirement to obtain a permit or authorization from FKNMS.