Aquifer Protection Ordinance Frequently Asked Questions
General Questions about the Aquifer Protection Program
- What is an aquifer?
An aquifer is a wet underground layer of water-bearing permeable rock or unconsolidated materials (gravel, sand, or silt) from which groundwater can be usefully extracted using water well.
- What is the Floridan Aquifer?
The Floridan Aquifer is our primary underground source of fresh drinking water.
- What is considered a well?
"Water Well" or "Well" means any excavation that is drilled, cored, bored, washed, driven, dug, jetted, or otherwise constructed when the intended use of such excavation is for the location, acquisition, development, or artificial recharge of ground water, but such term does not include any well for the purpose of obtaining or prospecting for oil, natural gas, minerals, or products of mining or quarrying; for inserting media to dispose of oil brines or to repressure oil-bearing or natural gas-bearing formation; for storing petroleum, natural gas, or other products; or for temporary dewatering of subsurface formations for mining, quarrying, or construction purposes.
- What is aquifer/wellhead protection?
We all know that clean water is necessary for our continued good health and productivity as a community. The City of Tallahassee/Leon County Aquifer/Wellhead Protection Program is a county-wide program administered by the City of Tallahassee to manage our ground water resource, the Floridan aquifer. We do this by implementing Leon County Code Article XIV, Aquifer/Wellhead Protection, identifying and evaluating problems that may threaten the aquifer, and coordinating with other local and state programs to protect the aquifer and speed the cleanup of contaminated sites.
- Why do we need the aquifer/wellhead protection program?
Leon County is fortunate to have an abundance of water that is generally of good quality. However there are localized problems that have caused contamination of our drinking water supplies, requiring costly treatment or forcing residents with private wells to connect to a municipal supply. The Aquifer/Wellhead protection program works to identify existing and potential problems, and aims to head them off before they occur, when possible. This minimizes the costs to both our health and our pocketbooks when problems do occur. This program is also mandated by elements of the Comprehensive Plan.
- What are the primary goals of the program?
- Compile the information we need to understand the limits of our water resources and to manage them properly. Make this information available to others.
- Help businesses in our county understand their effects on water resources and help them work in ways that minimize their effect on the environment through the proper storage, handling, and disposal of the chemicals used in business processes.
- Coordinate with other local and state agencies to find solutions to environmental problems in our community.
- What have we accomplished?
Significant amounts of data have been compiled from Department of Environmental Protection and Northwest Florida Water Management District records and prepared for use in the Tallahassee/Leon County GIS system. Information compiled to date includes over 9000 wells, more than 2000 underground storage tanks, and over 200 miscellaneous contamination sites including petroleum spills/leaks. This data is used to assist businesses and local government staff evaluating the purchase of new sites within our community and facilities planning to conduct remediation of their sites.
A database of regulated businesses within the Tallahassee urban service area has been assembled and letters have been sent informing these facilities of their responsibilities under the ordinance. Data and technical assistance has been provided to numerous city/county staff, state agencies, and private consultants to enhance the solution of environmental problems. Further details on some of the many other projects staff have been involved with are listed in Section II of this report. Many of the data coordination and technical assistance activities we are currently involved with require significant time and resources.
- What is a regulated substance?
Regulated substances shall mean the following:
- Substances, including degradation and interaction products, which because of quality, concentration, or physical/chemical characteristics (including ignitability, corrosively, reactiveness and toxicity, radioactivity, mutagenicity, bio accumulative effect, or persistence in nature) may cause a violation of Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) ground water standards pursuant to Chapter 62-520, F.A.C.; and
- Those substances set forth in the lists, as amended from time to time, entitled, "Lists of Hazardous Waste" (40 CFR 261, subpart D), "Hazardous Constituents- Appendix VIII," (40 CFR 261), and "EPA Designation Reportable Quantities and Notification Requirements for Hazardous Substances Under CERCLA" (40 CFR 302.4);
- Substances which have known hazardous properties as listed in 40 CFR 302 by the EPA; and
- Substances that are restricted-use pesticides according to F.S. Ch. 487, or which
are listed in F.A.C. chs. 5E-2 or 5E-9; and
- Water which contains total dissolved solids (TDS) in excess of 10,000 parts per
million (ppm) or chlorides in excess of 500 ppm.
- What is hazardous waste?
It is a waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health or the environment. Hazardous waste can be liquid, solid, gas, or sludge. It can be discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides, or the by-products of manufacturing processes. Check the products label. An item is hazardous if the label contains any of the following terms:POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION. Do NOT dispose with regular trash! http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/hwRegulation/default.htm
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Regulation of Well FAQs
- What do I do if I want a well abandoned?
You must obtain a permit from the NWFWMD and it must be properly abandoned by their standards and conducted by a licensed well driller. For more information see: http://www.state.fl.us/nwfwmd/permits/rules/ch40A3.pdf
- What private well owners need to know about bacteria?
Private water well owners are in a unique position. They control their own water supply. With this benefit come some responsibilities. Private well owners are responsible for protecting their groundwater resource as well as their families' health. They can bring in samples to the COT Water Quality lab for analysis.
- Can I drill a well on my property if I have an existing water service provider?
No person shall drill or reinstall any well which is located or proposed to be located on property that abuts and is within 400 feet of
- An available community water system line or
- An existing or planned well that is, or is intended to be, used in providing water for a community water system (as defined in Sec. 62-550.200(12), F.A.C.).
- What if I need monitor wells of have a community water service?
These new provisions do not apply to monitoring wells or wells constructed for community water systems.
- Do I need a permit for a well?
Yes, but prior to going to the WMD to pull a permit, please contact the City of Tallahassee and/or Talquin Electric Cooperative, Inc. to determine whether there is water service at the site where you are proposing to drill the well. Please provide the address and/or tax identification number of the parcel in question.
The contact information is:
City of Tallahassee: Aquifer Protection Coordinator, 891.1216
Talquin Electric Cooperative: Superintendent of Operations, 562.2115
- What is a licensed water well driller?
"A Licensed Water Well driller (Contractor)" means an individual who is responsible for the construction, repair, or abandonment of a water well and who is licensed under Chapter 62-531, F.A.C., to engage in the business of construction, repair, or abandonment of wells.
- How do I find a licensed well driller?
You may find a list of licensed water well contractors is available at: http://www.nwfwmd.state.fl.us/permits/drillweb.htm
Or contact Hal Avery in COT Environmental Policy and Energy Resources Department for a list if you want more than one quote. http://www.talgov.com/eper/ (891.8932)
- If I have an inactive well, and I intend to bring back into service, is there anything that is required of me?
Before the well is brought back into use, you will need to install backflow prevention equipment. Contact the sewer-cross connection division of water quality (891.1245).
- What is a heat Exchange Well?
Heat exchange wells in Leon County withdraw water from the Floridian Aquifer, use it to cool or heat buildings through various methods, then the water is
injected back into the aquifer. These wells are potential sources of contaminants and are regulated by Ordinance 92-4. By making facility managers more aware of the potential effect their wells have on ground water we enhance protection of the resource.
- What is a Sinkhole?
Some sinkholes form when the land surface is changed, such as when industrial and runoff-storage ponds are created. The substantial weight of the new material can trigger an underground collapse of supporting material, thus causing a sinkhole.
The overburden sediments that cover buried cavities in the aquifer systems are delicately balanced by ground-water fluid pressure. The water below ground is actually helping to keep the surface soil in place. Groundwater pumping for urban water supply and for irrigation can produce new sinkholes in sinkhole-prone areas. If pumping results in a lowering of ground-water levels, then underground structural failure, and thus, sinkholes, can occur.
Sinkholes are common where the rock below the land surface is limestone, carbonate rock, salt beds, or rocks that can naturally be dissolved by ground water circulating through them. As the rock dissolves, spaces and caverns develop underground. Sinkholes are dramatic because the land usually stays intact for a while until the underground spaces just get too big. If there is not enough support for the land above the spaces then a sudden collapse of the land surface can occur.
New sinkholes have been correlated to land-use practices, especially from ground-water pumping and from construction and development practices. Sinkholes can also form when natural water-drainage patterns are changed and new water-diversion systems are developed.
Florida has more sinkholes than any other state in the nation. They are an obvious feature of Florida's natural karst topography. Sinkholes provide a primary pathway for rainwater to replenish subsurface groundwater; they are an important part of the aquifer system that supplies 95% of Florida's drinking water.
Appreciation and conservation of sinkholes is essential to ensure the future of Florida's freshwater supply.
If left unprotected, polluted surface water can drain into sinkholes and easily contaminate the aquifers.
Unfortunately, their bad reputation for property destruction frequently overshadows the vital role sinkholes play in Florida's natural environment.
Sinkholes and the Aquifer
Sinkholes originate beneath the surface when groundwater moves through the limestone and erodes large voids, or cavities, in the bedrock. When water fills a cavity, it supports the walls and ceiling, but if the water-table drops, the limestone cavity is exposed to further erosional processes that eventually result in the collapse of the cavity, causing a surface indenture, or sinkhole. The sinkhole becomes a primary site of recharge, where surface water can enter the aquifer and replenish the groundwater supply. For more information, go to the following web site:
- What should I do if a sinkhole develops on my property?
- Notify your local Water Management District and COT Aquifer Protection (891.1200)
- Fence or rope the hole off
- Keep children away!
- Protect the area from garbage and waste
- Contact your homeowners insurance company
- What happened at Lake Jackson?
Lake Jackson Report
Regulated Entity Inspection FAQs
- Who do I contact when sediment runs off a construction site?
Some local governments have their own sediment and erosion control programs. Contact growth management department environmental division
Demolition Hazardous Waste Compliance Inspection FAQs
- What is a Hazardous waste?
It is a waste that is dangerous or potentially harmful to our health or the environment. Hazardous waste can be liquid, solid, gas, or sludge. It can be discarded commercial products, like cleaning fluids or pesticides, or the by-products of manufacturing processes. Check the products label. An item is hazardous if the label contains any of the following terms: POISON, DANGER, WARNING, or CAUTION. Do NOT dispose with regular trash! http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/hwRegulation/default.htm
- Where can I find environmental, regulatory and disposal information for fluorescent lights?
Even though fluorescent lights require some amount of mercury to function, using high-efficiency fluorescents saves energy and actually results in a net reduction in mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. The recycling and disposal of fluorescent lamps, particularly from non-household sources, further increases the net mercury benefits of fluorescent lights. To find out more about fluorescent lights, visit the following Web site at: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/mercury/default.htm
Additionally see: http://www.p2pays.org/Fluorescent/index.asp.
- How do I clean up a broken fluorescent lamp or compact fluorescent bulb?
Please see the following site for clean-up procedures: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/mercury/pages/guidance.htm
- Is used oil a hazardous waste?
Used oil is not considered a hazardous waste. It has its own set of rules and regulations. You can view these regulations at the following Web site: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/used_oil/default.htm
- What is universal waste?
The universal waste agenda promotes the collection and recycling of certain widely generated hazardous wastes. Universal wastes are batteries, pesticides, mercury-containing equipment and
lamps. Florida has recently added pharmaceutical waste to the program.
- How do I dispose of used oil?
It is illegal to dispose of used oil in a municipal solid waste landfill, on the ground, in storm drains, etc. Some local government solid waste programs may accept used oil on a regular basis or through a household hazardous waste collection day. Contact local solid waste officials for information about the disposal of used oil in your county. Local jobbers (companies that provide fuel) may also take used oil. They may charge a fee for this service. Check the "Yellow Pages" of your phone book for a listing of fuel companies.
- How do I dispose of used oil filters?
Recycle them as scrap. Oil filters are highly-recyclable products containing materials desired by manufacturers for industrial use.
- Who regulates storage tanks?
The Underground Storage Tank (UST) and Aboveground storage tanks (AST) are regulated in Florida by the Florida Department of Environment Protection (FDEP), with the exception of home heating oil tanks. FDEP regulates tanks 550 gallons and above and they must be registered with them. For more information about above ground storage tanks http://www.dep.state.fl.us/mainpage/programs/waste.htm
Aquifer Protection is responsible for those tanks below 549 gallons, all unregistered tanks.
If the tank is used to store chemicals, then you may need to contact SARA Right to Know staff
- Where do I get a septic tank permit?
The environmental health staff in your county health department will check your property to determine if it is suitable for a septic tank. For a listing of county health departments and their environmental health staff, check the following Web site: http://www.leoncountyfl.gov/lcphu/
- Where do I report a failed septic tank?
Contact the environmental health staff in your county health department. See the above Web site for a listing.
- Where do I report Freon leaks?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for enforcing certain regulations under the Clean Air Act, including ozone-depleting substances, often referred to as Freon, refrigerants, CFCs or other names. For more information, check the following Web site: www.epa.gov/compliance/complaints or call a toll-free hotline for reporting, (800) 296.1996 or (404) 562.9197. NOTE: You can either fill out a complaint form or leave a message at the end of the recording for filing a complaint. http://www.dep.state.fl.us/mainpage/programs/air.htm
Illicit Discharge Investigation FAQs
- What is stormwater runoff?
It is water from rain that "runs off" across the land rather than being absorbed into the ground. As this water flows toward the nearest low spot such as a stream, river, or other body of water, it picks up pollutants such as pesticides, fertilizers, oil, pet waste, leaves and more that can harm our water and environment. The following Web site has a wealth of information about stormwater runoff, issues, management and our role in reducing it: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/stormwater/npdes/index.htm
- What can I do about the stormwater that now flows into my yard from the new development?
New development sometimes causes stormwater to flow rather than be absorbed into the ground. This occurs when trees and plants are removed and/or construction and paving create impervious surfaces. Leon County or City of Tallahassee has local stormwater ordinances; you may have some recourse for protecting your property. However, if you do not fall within either of these categories, your only other option may be to take private legal action. Contact your local government for more information.
- What is an illicit discharge?
Illicit discharge means any discharge to the city's MS4 that is not composed entirely of stormwater, except discharges otherwise exempt under this division and discharges pursuant to valid federal, state or local permits.
- Who do I contact about an illicit discharge or illegal dumping?
To report any illicit discharge, connection, spill, or dumping of pollutants into the City's stormwater system by calling the Utility Customer Operations at 891.4YOU (4968). View the Protect Water Quality, Prevent and Report Illicit Discharge brochure.
Public Awareness FAQs
- How do I dispose of my household hazardous waste?
Household hazardous waste; items such as cleansers, pesticides, furniture strippers, paints and paint thinners, etc., that you frequently keep under the sink or on a shelf in the garage can sometimes be recycled by donating them to other organizations that can use them. If you need to dispose of these items, however, they should be managed properly by taking them to a household hazardous waste collection event or facility. Contact your local solid waste management officials for information about the management of these wastes in your area. Find out where you can dispose of hazardous waste around Tallahassee.
- What can I recycle? Can I get a recycling bin here?
Follow the hyperlink to city of Tallahassee recycling program.
- What should I know about Fertilizers?
Improper fertilizer application has been identified by the State as a major source of impairment caused by excessive nutrients to the City of Tallahassee's surface waters. Over fertilization is also reported as a cause for increasing levels of nitrogen in the ground water within the boundaries of the City. In order to address these concerns and protect our water resources, the City Commission adopted Ordinance No. 08-O-72AA on January 28, 2009. The ordinance regulates the proper use of fertilizers by any fertilizer applicator within the City, requires proper training and provides for certification of commercial and institutional fertilizer applicators.
- Where can I get information about the health effects associated with lead?
Lead can cause health problems for people when swallowed or inhaled. While potentially harmful to individuals of all ages, lead exposure is especially harmful to children under six years of age because it affects their developing brains and nervous systems. Ingesting or swallowing lead-contaminated materials is the primary way people get lead poisoning at home. Small children are particularly susceptible because of their constant hand-to-mouth activity. For information, contact the Department of Health and Human Services, Health Hazards Control Unit.
- What do I do with my old, outdated computer and electronic equipment?
Technology advancements in the computer and electronic equipment industry occur so quickly that they can become outdated almost overnight. Much of this equipment, or parts, can be recycled in some manner. For information about recycling and disposal of computers, check the following Web site: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/waste/categories/recycling/default.htm Learn more about what to do with electronics if you are a City of Tallahassee Utilities customer.
- Where can I get information about the health effects associated with asbestos?
If asbestos fibers are released into the air they may be inhaled and cause serious respiratory and other health problems. For information, contact FDEP www.dep.state.fl.us/air/emission/asbestos.htm
- Where can I find information about training, permitting and accreditation requirements for those who remove or manage asbestos, or check to see if a removal contractor is licensed?
Permits are required for most asbestos removal projects, and persons who manage asbestos must be trained and accredited. Notification is also required before demolition of a building. For more information, contact the www.dep.state.fl.us/air/emission/asbestos.htm