37th Annual Environmental Permitting Summer School Recap

This year’s event in Marco Island was a resounding success, with participants gaining valuable insights into cutting-edge environmental solutions. 

In particular, we’d like to highlight the remarkable presentations by Mark Thomasson and Jack Fiveash, which delved into the fascinating realms of “Stormwater Nutrient Credit Trading, Smart Ponds and Resilience in Florida.”




Mark Thomasson, P.E.,

Executive Vice President, Director of Engineering and Science – Chief Stormwater Engineer


Water Quality Credit Trading

Mark Thomasson served on a panel of experts that examined some recent examples of innovative nutrient trading, evaluated the legislation filed in 2022, and discussed some new approaches to managing nutrients in impaired watersheds. 

Mark took attendees on a journey into the world of “Smart Ponds” and how they are revolutionizing water quality management with the stormwater nutrient credit market in Florida.

He shed light on how the integration of sensors, data analytics, and real-time monitoring can transform these ponds into intelligent systems. These “Smart Ponds” can autonomously adjust water levels, optimize treatment capacity, and their operation to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Mark Thomasson, P.E.

Webinar: A Year in the Life of a Smart Pond

For the first time, the National Stormwater Trust, Inc. live-streamed a webinar directly from Marco Island. A total of 71 attendees joined the presentation led by Mark to gain case study insights from a look back at the first year of a smart stormwater pond.

John “Jack” Fiveash 

CEO and Co-Founder of NST

Does Florida Need a New Resilient Approach to Development?

Jack Fiveash was on a panel that delved into the critical topic of resilience in Florida’s complex environmental landscape. His presentation was focused on “Water Quality and Flood Resiliency: Becoming Fixers.”

Jack discussed the National Stormwater Trust’s work for Babcock Ranch and the Florida Department of Transportation, initiatives aimed at managing and mitigating the impacts of stormwater runoff by investing in ‘Smart Pond’ infrastructure. 

Jack Fiveash


Lessons Learned…

The audience came prepared with ideas and ready to participate in what was a lively and thought-provoking discussion! 

As we move forward, we’re excited to see how these concepts will shape the future of stormwater management and sustainable development not only in Florida but across the globe.

Whether in-person or on the live-stream, presentations left attendees inspired by the prospects of merging stormwater technology for a more sustainable future.

Stay tuned for more updates, and thank you for being part of our engaged community!

ENGINEERING TIP: Follow the New Rule!

Get ready, there’s a new rule coming!


In 2020, the Florida Legislature passed Senate Bill 712, also known as the Clean Waterways Act, that included a wide range of water-quality protection provisions aimed at minimizing the impact of known sources of nutrient pollution and strengthening regulatory requirements. As directed by section 5 of the Act, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and water management districts (WMDs) initiated rulemaking to update the stormwater design and operation regulations for environmental resource permitting.


FDEP and the WMDs formed a Technical Advisory Committee that met 13 times from December 2020 to November 2021, resulting in a Recommendations Report that was released in March 2022.  FDEP and the WMDs held a series of rule workshops from May 2022 to March 2023 to present and discuss proposed rule language. The rule was adopted April 14, 2023 but, due to the cost of implementation, requires ratification by the Florida Legislature. It is anticipated the rule will be ratified during the 2024 legislative session and will be effective no later than July 1, 2024.


The rule is long and complex, including Chapter 62-330, Florida Administrative Code, and the incorporated Applicants Handbook I, effective statewide, and the respective Applicant’s Handbook II for each WMD. Most of the rule remains unchanged; however, significant change is proposed that will affect the design, construction, and operation of stormwater treatment facilities, making most facilities larger and more complex to operate and maintain.


A very brief overview of the most notable proposed changes is presented below.

1.  Increase treatment requirements across the board:  

a) BMP presumptive treatment will be discontinued.

b) All new development must meet the maximum of:

i) Post nutrient discharge less than pre nutrient discharge

ii) 55%/80% reduction of post development TN/TP load

iii) Greater reductions for discharges to OFWs or impaired waters

c) Redevelopment

i) 45%/80% reduction of TN/TP for all sites

ii) 60%/90% reduction of TN/TP in OFW watersheds

2.  Expand criteria for compensatory and off-site treatment removing the “last resort” and “less than 10%” criteria, enabling the new treatment requirements to be achieved in any combination of on-site and off-site treatment.

3.  Increase monitoring, inspection, and reporting requirements for all facilities.

4.  Provide for inspector training and certification along with an inspection checklist.

5.  Require as-builts, an O&M plan, cost estimate, and more documentation of financial capability to transfer to O&M phase.


The implications to development are significant. Utilizing conventional stormwater BMPs, it is estimated that stormwater facilities could increase in size 2-3 times. This may not work in many locations, requiring the consideration of off-site treatment, more advanced treatment technologies, or a combination of these.

For current projects that already require some enhanced treatment, such as those discharging to impaired water bodies, or future projects under the proposed rule, we recommend increasing the efficiency of standard wet detention and retention BMPs with Smart Pond Technology provided by NST. Ponds equipped with that technology can meet requirements under the new rule for all new development.

Mark Thomasson, P.E.

Stormwater Nutrient Credit Program Offers Flexibility

You’ve decided that stormwater credits will benefit your project. Now what?

To maximize design flexibility for its partners, National Stormwater Trust has created the Stormwater Nutrient Credit market, enabling public and private developers to meet a portion of their stormwater treatment requirements by purchasing credits generated off-site. 

This is also known as compensatory treatment. Similar to mitigation, this allows one location to be undertreated, while overtreating nearby in a way that doesn’t contribute to a water quality violation in the receiving water or watershed. If this sounds similar to wetland mitigation, the concept is similar.

Mark Thomasson, P.E. Executive Vice President at National Stormwater Trust, recently shared during a statewide webinar, that the process for receiving stormwater credits is as simple as:

• Determining if credits are available in your basin,
• Determining how many credits are needed,
• Verifying availability, and
• Purchasing credits.

NST is providing two exclusive opportunities for developers to gain more insight into the Stormwater Nutrient Credit program:

  1. Book an appointment for a one-on-one conversation to ask questions specific to your project, and
  2. Schedule a “Lunch and Learn” to help you and your leadership team better understand the stormwater nutrient credit process.

Over the coming months, NST will also provide additional webinar opportunities to dive deeper into the benefits of off-site stormwater treatment and Regional Stormwater Management Systems.

ENGINEERING TIP OF THE MONTH: Incorporating Stormwater Nutrient Credits into Site Development Design

By: Mark Thomasson, P.E., Chief Stormwater Engineer

We’re often asked about how to maximize design flexibility using Stormwater Nutrient Credits (SNCs) to meet system requirements for stormwater management facilities that control both water quantity and water quality.

We recognize that land and opportunity costs constitute a majority of losses in stormwater management, and that’s why more and more civil engineers are turning to off-site stormwater treatment alternatives to optimize their designs.

To maximize design flexibility for its customers, National Stormwater Trust (NST) created the SNC market to enable public and private developers to meet a portion of their stormwater treatment requirements by purchasing credits generated in an off-site Regional Stormwater Management Systems (RSMS).

In a typical 10-acre commercial development in Orange County, the gross land cost is about $7.5 million. The cost of a conventional wet pond is about $0.5 million, including construction and the present value of 30 years of maintenance costs. The opportunity cost of the 1.2 acres occupied by the wet pond is about $0.9 million. (NOTE: The average cost of commercial real estate in Orange County is about $750,000 per acre.)

How can SNCs be applied to this scenario to benefit the development? In this example, the required water quality treatment is 0.83 ac-ft for 1” of treatment over the 10-acre site. This quantity of treatment (0.83 ac-ft or the equivalent treatment converted into pounds or kilograms of nitrogen per year) can be provided in a permitted RSMS in the same watershed. The purchase and transfer of SNCs from a regional facility to the development can result in significant cost savings to the development, while providing an equivalent amount of water quality treatment in a regional facility that is professionally maintained. In this example, the cost of the SNC would be about $625,000, and the savings to the developer would be about $800,000 (eliminating direct costs and lost land value).

Here’s how the permitting works: To use an SNC, you must secure a reservation in a permitted regional facility with available credits and provide evidence of the availability of the credit to your permit reviewer. The more convenient way to do that is to request a Credit Reservation Letter from NST. In that letter, NST will outline the quantity reserved (in acre-feet or pounds/year), and the permitted facility where the SNC is being generated. This documentation provides reasonable assurance to your permit reviewer and simplifies your permit process. Simply put, the Reservation Letter replaces the on-site water quality treatment in your permit.

Prior to the start of construction, NST will transfer the SNC to your permit through a letter modification to its regional facility. Evidence of that permitted transfer will be provided to complete the purchase.

If this sounds similar to using a wetland mitigation credit in lieu of permittee-responsible mitigation, that’s because this program is designed to work the same way. It’s a one-time purchase, and the stormwater treatment requirement is transferred from your development to an NST-operated regional treatment facility.

NST will proactively manage the collection, storage, and discharge of stormwater in its facilities. NST-managed stormwater facilities use Continuously Monitored and Adaptive Control (CMAC) technology to improve treatment performance and reduce flooding by controlling water levels and increasing the storage capacity of the facilities by drawing down water levels prior to forecasted rainfall. NST’s Smart Ponds are about 50 percent more effective in treating stormwater than conventional facilities and enable verification of water treatment performance in real time.

NST Has Access to 2,600+ FDOT Stormwater Ponds

Through an agreement with the Florida Department of Transportation, NST converts conventional FDOT stormwater ponds into regional Smart Ponds that generate Florida government-approved SNCs.

NST offers its SNC customers the one-stop convenience of long-term stormwater compliance and the knowledge that NST is providing state-of-the-art stormwater technology and scientific and financial resources to provide green infrastructure solutions to Florida.