Following 15 years of data collection, field studies, and modeling efforts, the State of Florida in 1987 legislatively mandated the South Florida Water Management District, a regional water management agency, to create and implement a plan to reduce average annual inputs of total phosphorus to Lake Okeechobee by 40 percent. One element of the resulting plan was the creation and implementation of a performance-based regulatory program that set phosphorus discharge limitations for all parcels of land equal to or greater than 1/2 acre in size in almost all of the 1,735,000 acres of the lake's 31 tributary drainage basins. Owners of non-complying parcels are required to take measures to bring the parcels into compliance.
This regulatory program, coupled with concurrent cost-share incentive programs and ongoing research efforts, has resulted in a decrease in phosphorus concentrations from individual properties and at some tributary discharge locations to the lake.
This effort demonstrates that where there is sufficient historical information, scientific application of state-of-the-art modeling techniques, a political will, and appropriate powers vested in the institutions to take and enforce actions, such programs can be implemented and have positive effects on reducing non-point source pollutants.