Acid deposition
A complex chemical and atmospheric phenomenon that happens when emissions of sulfur and nitrogen compounds and other substances are transformed by chemical processes in the atmosphere (often far from the original sources), form sulfuric and nitric acids, and are deposited on earth in either a wet or dry form. The wet form, often called "acid rain," can fall as rain, snow, or fog. The dry forms are acidic gases or particulates. In high enough concentrations, acid deposition can damage surface waters by altering pH, vegetation such as forests or agricultural crops, and buildings. More Information: Rainfall ». See also Atmospheric deposition.
Acid rain
The wet form of acid deposition.
Adaptation Changes
in an organism's structure, function, behavior, or activities that help it adjust to its environment.
Administrative hearing
A formal hearing, contesting a governmental agency's intent to issue (or deny) a permit, that takes place before a hearing officer from the agency. A hearing can be requested by a permit applicant or other affected individual, once the agency's notice of intent to issue (or deny) has been made public.
Administrative order
A governmental agency's legal document ordering that corrective action be taken or an environmentally harmful or dangerous activity be stopped.
Administrative record
All the information collected by a governmental agency about a particular action (including public comments), on which it bases its decision.
Administrative rule
The rules that are developed by a governmental agency, once the legislature has passed a particular law, set guidelines and specific regulations for enforcing that law.
The adhesion of gas molecules, liquid, or dissolved solids to a surface.
Pertaining to organisms or processes that occur only in the presence of oxygen.
Agricultural exemption
An exemption from environmental-permit requirements for agricultural activities, including farming and forestry operations.
Agricultural pollution
The liquid and solid wastes from farming, including stormwater runoff, leaching of pesticides and fertilizers into groundwater, erosion, dust from plowing, animal manure and carcasses, and crop residues.
Airborne particulates
Solid particles or liquid droplets suspended in the atmosphere. Their chemical composition varies widely, depending on the location and time of year. Such particulates include windblown dust, emissions from industrial processes, smoke from burning coal and wood, and vehicle exhaust.
Alga (plural algae)
A simple, rootless plant that grows in sunlit water, giving the water a highly colored appearance, often green.
Algal bloom
A sudden spurt of algal growth that occurs because of high nutrient levels and warm waters. Large amounts of algae can affect water quality by lowering the level of dissolved oxygen in the water. Fish kills often result.
Having a pH above 7.0.
Alluvial stream
A perennial, intermittent/seasonal watercourse characterized by turbid water with suspended silt, clay, sand and small gravel; generally with a distinct, sediment-derived (alluvial) floodplain and a sandy, elevated natural levee just inland from the bank. It occurs only in the Florida Panhandle.
Ambient monitoring
Monitoring for systematic, long-term assessment of pollutant levels, as contrasted with targeted monitoring that is event-driven (as for a pollution spill), or related to a particular activity (operation of an industrial facility, or land development, for example).
A cold-blooded, scaleless vertebrate such as a frog, toad, or salamander that usually begins life as a tadpole in water and, after changing form, develops lungs and becomes a terrestrial air breather.
Migratory fish species such as sturgeon and shad that are born in fresh water, spend most of their lives in estuarine and marine waters, and return to fresh water to spawn.
Pertaining to organisms or processes that occur in, or are not destroyed by, the absence of oxygen.
Aquatic nuisance species
Water-borne plants or animals that pose a threat to humans, agriculture, fisheries, and/or wildlife resources. See also Exotic species; See also Hydrilla; See also Non-indigenous species.
Aquatic plant
Plant growing in or closely associated with water; an aquatic plant may float in water or be rooted in submerged soil.
An underground geological layer (stratum), or group of layers (strata), that hold water which can be fresh, brackish, or saline. Florida has numerous aquifers: the Floridan, Biscayne, Sand and Gravel, and Chokoloskee Aquifers; as well as undifferentiated, unnamed aquifers; surficial aquifers; and intermediate aquifers.
Aquifer Resource Index
Provides current groundwater conditions compared to historical records to inform the media, residents and local government with a gauge of the groundwater levels in their area. This gauge helps with understanding the severity and cycles of drought and recovery. More Information: Aquifer Resource Indicator »
Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE)
The federal agency that administers the Section 404 permit program on dredging or filling navigable waters, including wetlands.
Artesian well
A well from which water naturally flows from an underground aquifer because of subterranean pressure.
Artificial Reef
A reef made using man-made objects -such as a shipwreck, or old tires- to provide a surface for algae to attach and encourage the accumulation of marine life. More Information: Artificial Reef »
Atmospheric Deposition
The delivery of pollutants from the atmosphere to either land or water. Sometimes called "air deposition." More Information: Atmospheric Chemistry and Deposition
Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS)
The Automated Surface Observing System (ASOS) program is a joint effort of the National Weather Service (NWS), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and the Department of Defense (DOD). The ASOS system serves as the nation's primary surface weather observing network designed to support weather forecast activities and aviation operations and, at the same time, support the needs of the meteorological, hydrological, and climatological research communities.


Background level
In air pollution control, the concentration of air pollutants in a definite area during a fixed period, before a source of emission under control is started up or stopped. In toxic substances monitoring, it refers to the average level in the environment.
To pump water to a higher elevation, often used to refer to backpumping water from agricultural fields into a body of water.
A body of water in which the flow is slowed or turned back by an obstruction such as a bridge or dam, an opposing current, or the movement of the tide.
Bacterium (plural bacteria)
A microscopic living organism found in soil, water, or air. While mostly beneficial, some bacteria can harm humans, animals, and plants. Bacteria can aid in pollution control by breaking down organic matter found in sewage, or by consuming oil or other water pollutants. More Information: Bacteria »
Barrier island
A narrow, sandy coastal island built through wave action and separated from the mainland. Such islands form a barrier that protects the shore from the open sea. They are easily flooded during storms or high water, and are constantly in the process of being created, shifted, or destroyed by wind and waves.
Base flow
The sustained low flow of a stream, usually groundwater inflow to the stream channel.
A depression of the earth in which sedimentary materials accumulate, usually over a long period. Also refers to a drainage basin, a large area of land from which water drains into streams and rivers. See also Watershed.
Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP)
This is a plan of action for restoring impaired waters by reducing pollutant loadings to meet the allowable limits established in a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL). It usually consists of a comprehensive set of strategies such as permit limits on wastewater facilities, urban and agricultural best management practices, conservation programs, financial assistance and revenue-generating activities in an effort to implement the pollutant reductions established by the Total Maximum Daily Load. More Information: Impaired Waters
The measurement of the depth of large bodies of water (oceans, seas, ponds and lakes). The measurement of water depth at various places in a body of water. Also the information derived from such measurements. (NALMS) More Information: Bathymetry. See also Topography.
A freshwater hardwood swamp dominated by bay trees, which have evergreen, leathery, broad leaves.
Beach drift
See Littoral drift.
Beach re-nourishment
A maintenance or restoration project that dredges sand onto an eroded beach. This expensive process must be repeated periodically as the sand continues to erode. If sand of a different composition and density is brought in from other areas, re-nourishment may affect aquatic habitats.
A term that describes both organisms and processes that occur in, on, or near, a lake's bottom sediments.
Benthic invertebrates
Insects, mollusks, crustaceans, worms, and other organisms without a backbone that live in, on, or near the bottom of lakes, streams, wetlands or oceans. Benthic invertebrates provide an essential source of food for young and adult fish, wildlife and other animals. See also Macroinvertabrates.
A narrow, artificially created hill that contains a water body.
Best Management Practices (BMP)
An agricultural practice that has been determined to be an effective, practical means of preventing or reducing nonpoint-source pollution. BMPs include the best structural and non-structural controls and operation and maintenance procedures available. BMPs can be applied before, during and after pollution-producing activities, to reduce or eliminate the introduction of pollutants into receiving waters.
(1) Toxic substances that increase in concentration in the tissues and organisms of living organisms as they breathe contaminated air, drink contaminated water, or eat contaminated food. These substances are very slowly metabolized or excreted.
(2) The net accumulation of a substance by an organism as a result of uptake from all environmental sources. As an organism ages it can accumulate more of these substances, either from its food or directly from the environment. Bioaccumulation of a toxic substance has the potential to cause harm to organisms, particularly to those at the top of the food chain. The pesticide, DDT, is an example of a chemical that bioaccumlates in fish and then in humans, birds, and other animals eating those fish.
Using living organisms to measure the effect of a substance, factor, or condition by comparing before-and-after data.
An evaluation of the biological condition of a waterbody that uses biological surveys and other direct measurements of resident biota in surface waters. Most often evaluated are the fish population, the bottom-dwelling insects and other invertebrates, and plants or attached algae.
Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD)
The amount of dissolved oxygen, expressed in milligrams per liter that is required by an ecosystem for biological respiration and chemical reactions. It is a measure of the amount of organic material in water. High BOD means that less oxygen is available for aquatic animals and usually indicates poor water quality. See also Impaired Waters.
The ability of a substance or material to break down rapidly through natural conditions and processes, including the action of bacteria, insects, and fungi.
Biodiversity (or biological diversity)
Biodiversity exists on a number of levels. Genetic diversity is the diversity in the gene pool of an entire species, that is, all the genes present in all its individuals. This diversity allows at least some individuals to survive extreme environmental changes that threaten the survival of a species. If too few genes remain in the gene pool, inbreeding results and a species is more likely to become extinct. Species diversity is the number of different interdependent species living in a particular ecosystem. On a larger scale, ecosystem diversity is the number of different interconnected ecosystems that exist in a particular region. All these different levels of biodiversity contribute to global biodiversity, the diversity of life on the entire planet.
Biological integrity
The health of a particular ecosystem, characterized by the number and variety of species present, as well as a system's stability and capacity to sustain itself over a long period.
Biological productivity
The measurement of how much of the Sun's energy is being converted into plants and animals (or biomass). Productivity varies for each ecosystem; systems such as wetlands and estuaries, which shelter the greatest numbers of plants and animals, are the most productive.
Biological waste
Any solid or liquid waste that can cause disease or infection, including laboratory waste, waste containing human blood and body fluids, diseased or dead animals, and other materials that can transmit pathogens. Also called biohazardous waste.
The amount of living matter, in the form of organisms, present in a particular habitat, usually expressed as weight-per-unit area.
Biomass conversion
The process of converting biomass into energy. Because it stores the sun's energy through plant photosynthesis, biomass is a form of indirect solar energy. The energy can be released by burning wood, garbage, or other organic material; or by creating synthetic fuels from manure, crops, garbage, or plant oils.
The restoration of all or some of an ecosystem or area's biological functions.
(1) The portion of Earth and its atmosphere that can support life.
(2) A term that includes all of the ecosystems on the planet along with their interactions; the sphere of all air, water, and land in which all life is found.
Method of filtering stormwater runoff, using a terrestrial aerobic (upland) plant/soil/microbe complex to remove pollutants through a variety of physical, chemical, and biological processes.
See Biomass.
Biotic community
A naturally occurring assemblage of plants and animals that live in the same environment and that are mutually self-sustaining and interdependent.
Biotic index
The measurement of an ecosystem's biodiversity.
Black water
(1) Surface water that is dark in color because it contains high levels of colored organic acids such as tannic acid, or (2) domestic wastewater that contains animal, human, or food wastes.
Blackwater stream
Perennial or intermittent/seasonal watercourse characterized by tea-colored water with a high content of particulate and dissolved organic matter derived from drainage through swamps and marshes and those places that generally lack an alluvial floodplain. Occurs statewide except in the Florida Keys.
See Algal bloom.
See Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD).
Botanical pesticide
A pesticide whose active ingredient is a plant-produced chemical such as nicotine or pyrethrin. While some of these compounds can be extremely toxic, generally they break down quickly compared with many other pesticides.
Bottomland hardwoods
Hardwood-forested freshwater wetlands adjacent to surface waters in the southeastern United States. They contain plants typical of seasonally flooded floodplains and are especially valuable for wildlife breeding and nesting.
water Water that has a salinity intermediate between seawater and freshwater (containing from 1,000 to 10,000 milligrams per liter of dissolved solids).
A natural or artificial barrier that breaks the force of waves.
In Florida's aquifers, a formation of fresh water that lies above areas of salt water. It is also called a lens. Bubbles are particularly vulnerable to saltwater intrusion if the fresh water is pumped out.
The space next to an environmentally sensitive area required to protect it from human activities, so that its biological function and stability as an ecosystem are preserved. Some restrictions on future development are usually imposed in a buffer.
An artificial retaining wall used to stabilize a shoreline. More Information: Coastal Morphology
The swelling at the base or along the exposed roots of certain trees, such as cypress and gum, that grow in a wetlands environment.


Capital Improvement Projects (CIP)
The CIP is designed by a County to meet infrastructure needs in six facility types: parks, solid waste, stormwater, transportation, water and wastewater. More Information: CIP »
Carbon dioxide (CO2)
A colorless, odorless, poisonous gas resulting from fossil-fuel combustion and the breakdown of organic matter. It is an essential part of the Earth's atmosphere and a major greenhouse gas that may be contributing to global warming. Carbon dioxide levels have increased substantially since the Industrial Revolution-particularly in the last few decades as fossil-fuel use and the large-scale burning of tropical rainforests have increased.
See Coastal Construction Control Line.
Straightening and deepening streams so water will move faster. Because channelization increases water flow, flooding is reduced, but the practice destroys habitats, lowers the water table, and interferes with an area's ability to assimilate wastes.
Chemical oxygen demand (COD)
A measure of the oxygen required to oxidize all organic and inorganic compounds in water. See also Water Quality Index (WQI).
Chlorinated hydrocarbons (organochlorines)
A high-risk group of persistent, broad-spectrum insecticides and chemicals that pass up the food chain and accumulate in fatty tissue. They attack the nervous system and are suspected carcinogens and mutagens. Chemicals in this category-many of which have been banned or restricted, or are being considered for further restrictions-include DDT, aldrin, benzene, kepone, heptachlor, methoxychlor, dicofil, dieldrin, heptachlor, chlordane, lindane, endrin, mirex, hexachloride, toxaphene, and trichloroethylene.
Adding chlorine to drinking water, sewage, or industrial waste to disinfect or to oxidize undesirable compounds.
Chlorophyll a
The measurement of a water body's algae levels and trophic state. Chlorophyll is a green pigment found in plants that carry out photosynthesis. See also Water chemistry.
Clastic upland lake
Generally irregular basin in clay uplands; predominantly with inflows, frequently without surface outflow; clay or organic substrate; colored, acidic, soft water with low mineral content (sodium, chloride, sulfate); oligomesotrophic to eutrophic. Occurs from the Florida Panhandle to the northern central peninsula.
Clean Air Act
Contains many provisions to protect the outdoor air quality in the United States by setting national ambient air quality standards to protect public health. See also Air Quality Index.
Clean Water Act
Uses a variety of regulatory and non-regulatory tools to sharply reduce direct pollutant discharges into waterways and manage polluted runoff by setting water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters.
Coastal Construction Control Line (CCCL)
A line defining a coastal construction zone, mandated by the 1985 Florida legislature. Within the zone, local governments must adopt construction codes that allow buildings to withstand 110-mile-an-hour hurricane winds.
Climate change
Major changes in temperature, rainfall, snow or wind patterns lasting for decades or longer. Climate change may result from: (1) natural factors, such as changes in the sun's energy or slow changes in the Earth's orbit around the sun; (2) natural processes within the climate system (e.g. changes in ocean circulation); (3) human activities that change the atmosphere's makeup (e.g. burning fossil fuels) and the land surface (e.g. cutting down forests, planting trees, building developments in cities and suburbs etc.)
Coastal dune lake
A basin or lagoon influenced by recent coastal processes; predominantly sand substrate with some organic matter; salinity variable among and within lakes, and subject to saltwater intrusion and storm surges; slightly acidic, hard water with high mineral content (sodium, chloride). Occurs only in the Florida Panhandle.
Coastal morphology
The study of the physical features of the shoreline.
Coastal rockland lake
Shallow basin influenced by recent coastal processes; predominantly barren oolitic or Miami limestone substrate; salinity variable among and within lakes, and subject to saltwater intrusion, storm surges and evaporation (because of shallowness); slightly alkaline, hard water with high mineral content (sodium, chloride). Occurs in the southern peninsula and Florida Keys.
Coastal strand
A thin strip of fragile, wind-pruned, woody vegetation along high-energy coastlines, coastal strand is an important type of upland beach and dune habitat that contains many rare or endangered plants and animals. Coastal strand is rapidly vanishing because it is considered ideal for development.
Coastal wetlands
Tidal coastal areas such as mangrove swamps and salt marshes that are extremely valuable ecologically. These areas contribute directly to the high biological productivity of coastal waters by providing nursery and feeding areas for shellfish and finfish, as well as habitat for birds and other animals. They also reduce flooding and sedimentation, absorb nutrients, hold water for groundwater recharge, and provide significant evapotranspiration-an important part of the hydrological cycle.
Coastal zone
Coastal waters and adjacent lands that exert a measurable influence on the uses of the seas and their resources and biota.
See Chemical oxygen demand.
Bacteria found in the intestinal tracts or feces of humans and other warm-blooded animals (called fecal coliform). Their presence in water indicates fecal pollution and potentially dangerous bacterial contamination by disease-causing organisms such as streptococcus. More Information: Bacteria »
Coliform index
A water-purity rating based on a count of fecal bacteria.
Colonial birds
Birds such as pelicans, cormorants, and herons that nest in large colonies in the marshes and islands adjacent to Florida's surface waters.
A solid waste management technique of accumulating organic matter and then allowing natural biological decomposition to occur. The material breaks down in the presence of oxygen to form humus-like material that can be used to improve soil. See also Organic Fertilizer.
Comprehensive Conservation & Management Plan (CCMP)
A document that serves as a blueprint to guide future decisions and actions within a defined area—a watershed, estuary, preserve, etc. It usually addresses a wide range of interconnected environmental protection issues including water quality, habitat, fish and wildlife, pathogens, land use, and introduced species, to name a few.
Conditional permit
See Permit
The planned management of resources, especially natural resources, to prevent their exploitation, destruction, or neglect.
Conservation easement
A legal document granting a right or interest in real property to preserve land or water in its natural state.
The requirement of Florida's 1975 Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act that local governments make land-use decisions that are consistent with their comprehensive plans and with state plans.
Consumptive-use permits
See Permit
Continental shelf
The gently sloping part of the ocean floor that lies between the shoreline and an abrupt change in slope that occurs farther out to sea.
Coral reef
The complex marine ecosystem associated with living coral. See also Artificial Reefs.
See Habitat system.
Criteria pollutants (CAP)
A group of air and water pollutants regulated by the EPA under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act on the basis of criteria that includes information on health and environmental effects. Criteria pollutants include particulates, some metals, organic compounds and other substances attributable to discharges.
Critical habitat
An area containing important habitats, such as feeding and nesting areas, that are essential to preserving a formally protected species.
Cross-Florida Barge Canal
Proposed in 1962 by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, this 110-mile-long canal would have crossed the state from west to east, from Yankeetown to Palatka, destroyed much of the Oklawaha River, and penetrated the Floridan Aquifer. Numerous citizen and environmental groups effectively opposed the canal, which was halted in 1971 by a citizens' suit and an executive order from President Richard Nixon, and formally de-authorized by Congress in 1990.
Cultural eutrophication
The accelerated rate at which water bodies become eutrophic, or die, because of human-caused nutrient pollution.
Cumulative impact
The total effect of a number of human activities on the environment. While each one alone may not have a noticeable effect, in combination with others their impact can be significant.


Datum (plural data)
Information (either facts or figures) from which conclusions can be drawn.
Datum plane
A horizontal plane to which ground elevations or water surface elevations are referenced. See also Stage; See also Water level.
The process of breaking down matter into simpler compounds by bacterial, fungal, or chemical action.
Able to be broken down into a simpler form using chemical, physical, or biological means.
Designated Use
An element of a water quality standard, expressed as a narrative statement, describing an appropriate intended human and/or aquatic life objective for a water body. Designated uses for a water body may include: recreation, shellfishing, water supply and/or aquatic life habitat.
Detention pond
A pond to collect and temporarily store stormwater runoff. Pollutants are allowed to settle out, and the water is then gradually released to surface waters.
Dew Point
A measure of atmospheric moisture. It is the temperature that air must be cooled in order to reach saturation (assuming air pressure and moisture content are constant). A higher dew point indicates more moisture present in the air.
Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT)
One of the nine critical pollutants, was commonly used as an insecticide after World War II and is now banned in the U.S. and Canada. DDT and its metabolites are toxic pollutants with long-term persistence in soil and water. They concentrate in the fat of wildlife and humans and may disrupt the human body's chemical system of hormones and enzymes. DDT caused eggshell thinning in a number of fish-eating birds and is associated with the mortality of embryos and sterility in wildlife, especially birds.
Direct discharger
A municipal or industrial facility that introduces point source pollution through a defined system.
Any release or unloading of a substance or materials from a pipe, or other emission source. The addition of any pollutant to the waters within the state or to any disposal system from a point source.
Dissolved oxygen (DO)
The oxygen freely available in water that is vital to the existence of fish and other aquatic life. It is considered the single most important indicator of a water body's ability to support desirable aquatic life. Secondary and advanced waste treatment systems are usually designed to protect DO in waste-receiving waters. More Information: Dissolved Oxygen » or Water Quality Index (WQI) »
Dissolved solids
See Total dissolved solids.
Disturbed lands
Areas where native vegetation has been removed, usually by human causes. These areas are especially vulnerable to invasions of exotic plants.
Diversity index
A measure of the diversity of species contained in a sample; a greater diversity of species usually indicates lower levels of pollution, while fewer species existing in large numbers usually indicate higher levels of pollution. In surface waters, macroinvertebrates are used as a measure of diversity.
Draft permit
See Permit
Drainage basin
The land area drained by a river; a subdivision of a watershed. More Information: Watersheds »
An area of land used as a filter. Water flow is directed over a drainfield to remove impurities, for example, in a septic system.
Lowering a lake's water level so that all or part of the bottom is exposed. As a result, thick organic sediments that destroy habitat for aquatic life are oxidized and consolidated, and the lake is then refilled with cleaner water. A pumpdown is a drawdown in which water must be mechanically pumped out to lower the lake level.
To excavate, create, or alter a water body. Dredging destroys habitats and causes silting that can harm aquatic life. Further environmental damage can occur if the dredging stirs up heavy metals or other hazardous substances in bottom sediments. See also Maintenance dredging.
Dredge and fill
To excavate a low-lying area such as a wetland, containing muck or other highly organic soils, and then fill the area with material such as sand or gravel, suitable as a base for a road or building.
Drinking water supply standard
A threshold concentration for a constituent or compound in a public drinking-water supply, designed to protect human health. As defined here, standards are U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations that specify the maximum contamination levels for public water systems required to protect the public welfare; guidelines have no regulatory status and are issued in an advisory capacity.
An extended period without rain: technically, a period in which rainfall is 70 percent below average for three weeks or longer.


Ecological stability
The state of an ecosystem in which its structure and function stay approximately the same for long periods.
The relationship of living things to each other and their environments, or the study of such relationships.
The interaction of a biological community and its environment, considered collectively. Each ecosystem is made up of biotic and abiotic (living and nonliving) components.
Treated or untreated wastewater flowing out of a treatment plant, sewer, or industrial outfall into a water body.
Emergent zone
One of the major plant zones in a water body, it occurs in deeper water and does not dry out. Plants in this zone are rooted in mud with the bottom half in the water and the top half emergent.
Emission inventory
A listing, by source, of the amount of air pollutants discharged into a community's atmosphere that is used to set emission standards.
Emission standard
The maximum amount of an air-polluting discharge legally allowed from a single source, mobile or stationary.
Emissions trading
A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency policy under the federal Clean Air Act Amendments that allows a plant with several facilities to decrease pollution at some while increasing it at others, as long as the overall results are equal to or better than previously existing limits. Complexes that substantially reduce their emissions can "bank" their pollution "credits" or sell them to other industries.
Endangered species
A formal federal and state designation for animals or plants in immediate danger of extinction because of human-induced or natural changes in their environments.
All the external conditions-physical and biological-that affect an organism's life, development, and survival in its ecosystem.
Environmental externalities
The indirect costs to society that result from long-term, residual environmental effects such as pollution, after existing environmental standards have been complied with. These costs are important in competitive bidding. If not accounted for, they allow low-cost bidders who omit them to win contracts, accrue large profits that do not go to those affected, and cause long-term environmental damage.
Environmental impact statement (EIS)
Under the federal National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), this detailed document must be produced to describe the environmental effects of a large-scale project, activity, or legislative proposal. Federal agencies planning a large-scale project must also prepare an EIS, which describes both the positive and negative effects of the project and lists alternative approaches.
Environmental Protection Commission of Hillsborough County
Created in 1967 by a special act by the Florida Legislature and consists of five different divisions: Air, Environmental Resources Management, Waste, Water and Wetlands. Their primary responsibility is to conduct pollution complaint investigations and deals with permitting issues.
Ephemeral stream
A stream or part of a stream that flows only after precipitation, and whose channel is always above the water table.
Wearing away land surfaces by wind or water through the processes of weathering, dissolution, abrasion, corrosion, and transportation. While erosion is a natural process, it can be accelerated by poor land management practices.
Regions between rivers and near-shore ocean waters where tides and rivers mix fresh and salt water. Habitat quality in these areas depend on how much fresh water flows into them, how good in quality that water is, how often it flows in, and how long it flows. These variables establish salinity levels, which in turn dictate the kinds of plants and animals that live there. Estuaries can include bays, river mouths, tidal marshes, and the sheltered waters between barrier islands and the mainland. The estuarine zone is very productive biologically because of its high nutrient levels. It shelters and feeds many marine species, birds, and other wildlife.
Ethylene dibromide (EDB)
A toxic and carcinogenic chemical used as an agricultural fumigant and in some industrial processes. It has been banned in the United States for most agricultural uses. A number of Florida's rural drinking-water wells are contaminated with the chemical.
Eutrophic (noun eutrophication)
The aging process by which a water body evolves into a bog or marsh and eventually fills in and disappears. In later stages, the levels of nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus released by the decaying organic matter increase, and the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water decreases. This shift favors the development of plant over animal life.
The part of the hydrologic cycle in which water vapor is returned to the atmosphere through the processes of evaporation from soil and surface waters, and transpiration from plant leaves.
Exotic species
A plant or animal species that is not native to a geographic area or ecosystem. Because they may have no natural pests once they are placed in a new location, many exotic species reproduce prolifically and replace native species or the habitats that support those species. Controlling Florida's exotic plants (such as melaleuca, Brazilian pepper, and water hyacinths) and exotic animals (such as the fish tilapia and wild hogs) costs millions of dollars annually. See also Aquatic nuisance species; See also Non-indigenous species.
Using natural resources strictly for human benefit, without considering factors such as long-term environmental damage, resource depletion, or other important considerations.
Exploratory well
A well drilled in unproved or semiproved territory to ascertain the presence of a particular deposit such as oil or minerals.
No longer in existence. Plants and animals become extinct because of factors such as habitat alteration or destruction, overhunting or overfishing, competition from exotic species, or destruction by humans because of competition with human needs (such as livestock predators).


The entire animal life of a particular region or geological period.
Fecal coliform
See Coliform.
A substance needed for plant nutrition, such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium.
Field study
Ecological research done in real (as opposed to artificial laboratory) environments.
Fire ecology
The study of natural communities such as pine flatwoods and scrub that have adapted to naturally occurring fires every three to ten years. Fire-adapted species that would become extinct without fires to maintain their habitats include red-cockaded woodpeckers, bluebirds, fox squirrels, gopher tortoises, and many kinds of trees, shrubs, and wildflowers.
First flush
A form of nonpoint source pollution, the first flush is the first inch of stormwater runoff containing the most pollution. The pollution content of urban stormwater in the first inch usually exceeds that of untreated sewage.
Fish kill
A variety of factors, including microorganisms, lack of dissolved oxygen, rapid changes in temperature or salinity, and others can result in serious stress to fishes and in fish death. People are advised not to swim or gather fish for consumption in an area where dead fish are present.
Fisheries dependent monitoring
An assessment of the fish stocks that are sought by the commercial and sport fishing industries, such as salmon and king fish. More Information: Fisheries Independent Monitoring »
Fisheries independent monitoring
A Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission monitoring program that collects fisheries information by sampling the abundance of young, juvenile fishery species in several bays and estuaries throughout the state. Fish are caught and sampled by Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) scientists, rather than depending on fishermen and seafood dealers for fishery data. Fishery independent monitoring data provides trends in abundance for most fishery species. More Information: Fisheries Independent Monitoring »
The most common plant community in Florida, flatwoods are dominated by longleaf pine, slash pine, and saw palmettos. They are often temporarily flooded in the summer and burn naturally from lightning strikes. Flatwoods contain many fire-dependent species.
Floating-leaf zone
Vegetation zone containing those plants that are rooted in the bottom of a water body but with leaves and flowers that float on the water surface. This zone is usually in a protected area with little to no wave action.
The process in which solid clumps in water or sewage are made to increase in size by biological or chemical action so they can be separated from the water.
The low-lying area bordering a stream, river channel, or lake that is inundated during high water.
The entire plant life of a particular region or geological period.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
The lead government agency in Florida for environmental management and stewardship. The Department is divided into three primary areas: Regulatory Programs, Land and Recreation and Planning and Management.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
Exercises the regulatory and executive powers of the State of Florida with respect to wild animal life and fresh water aquatic life. The research arm of the Commission is called the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.
Florida Lake Management Society
The Florida Chapter of the North American Lake Management Society (NALMS) which promotes understanding of and comprehensive lake management while assisting in local lake protection.
A volunteer citizen lake monitoring program that facilitates "hands-on" citizen participation in the management of Florida lakes through monthly monitoring activities.
Florida Sea Grant
A partnership program with the Florida Board of Education and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, uses academic research, education and extension to create a sustainable coastal economy and environment. See also National Sea Grant program.
See Stream flow.
Food chain
A series of nutritional steps that pass energy through an ecosystem through a series of organisms, starting with plants. Organisms low on the food chain are eaten by the organism on the next level. The chain ends with predators. Pollutants that enter the food chain can pass up the chain, bioaccumulating in the tissues and organs of animals at the top of the chain.
The division of ecosystems and habitats into smaller and smaller pieces because of human activities. Individual specimens and populations become isolated, can no longer move about to meet their basic habitat needs, find new territories, or mate. Isolated populations become subject to inbreeding, which can eventually cause reproductive failure or vulnerability to disease.
Fresh water
Water that generally contains less than 1,000 milligrams per liter of dissolved solids. Usually, more than 500 mg/L of dissolved solids is undesirable for drinking water and many industrial uses.
Fungus (plural fungi)
A group of organisms, including molds, mildews, and yeasts, that lacks chlorophyll (i.e., does not carry out photosynthesis).


Gage height
See Stage.
Gaging station
A particular site on a stream, canal, lake, or reservoir where systematic observations of hydrologic data are obtained.
Game fish
Species of fish caught for sport, such as trout or bass. Many of these species show more sensitivity to environmental changes than so-called rough fish.
Geographic Information Systems (GIS)
A computerized system for combining, displaying, and analyzing geographic data. GIS produces maps for environmental planning and management by integrating physical and biological information (soils, vegetation, hydrology, living resources, and so forth) and cultural information (population, political boundaries, roads, bank and shoreline development, and so forth). See also Spatial Data.
Global warming
A projected increase in the global mean temperature of as much as five degrees Fahrenheit that may occur by the end of the 21st century, caused by the increase in greenhouse gases that trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere. These include carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and nitrous oxides. Global warming may have a variety of consequences, including climate change and a sea-level rise from melting polar ice caps.
Grass carp
A species of fish that is native to large rivers in eastern Asia and China. These fish are vegetarian and have been used extensively to control aquatic vegetation and algae. Triploid Grass Carp are fish that have been rendered sterile so that they cannot reproduce. More Information: »
Greenhouse effect
The warming of the Earth's atmosphere that may be taking place, caused by the buildup of carbon dioxide and other gases in the atmosphere since the Industrial Revolution of the late 1800s. The buildup of these "greenhouse gases" may be allowing the sun's rays to heat the planet but prevent a counterbalancing loss of heat. As a result, global temperatures may rise as much as five degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the 21st century, possibly resulting in global climate changes, altered weather patterns, the melting of the polar ice caps and glaciers, and a rise in sea levels that would flood many populated areas.
Greenhouse gases
Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, chlorofluorocarbons, and nitrous oxides that accumulate in the atmosphere and may be contributing to global warming. These gases are generated mainly by human activities, as follows: energy use, 56%; agriculture, 21%; refrigeration and cooling systems, 15%; natural causes, 7%; and industry, 1%. See also Hydrochlorofluorocarbons.
Green Revolution
The period beginning in the 1940s and culminating in the 1960s with the production of high-yield agricultural varieties. The widespread use of these varieties, however, can encourage monocultures that are vulnerable to disease and that need more water, fertilizer, and pesticides than traditional crops.
A barrier built on a beach at right angles to the water's edge and entering the sea. It reduces local erosion by holding back the currents that tend to carry sediments along the beach, but deprives downshore areas of sand.
Water usually found in porous layers, or aquifers, below the Earth's surface. Groundwater can be fresh, brackish, or saline. Ninety percent of Florida's drinking water comes from groundwater. These underground supplies, however, can easily be polluted by agricultural or industrial chemicals, hazardous waste spills, landfills, leaking underground storage tanks, or saltwater intrusion.
Groundwater flow
The underground pathway by which groundwater moves from areas of recharge to areas of discharge.


The place where an organism, population, or community of animals, plants, or microorganisms lives, as well as its surroundings, both living and nonliving. Habitat includes the basic needs of all living things: food, water, shelter, and space. Animal and plant populations shrink and disappear because the habitats that supply their basic needs are destroyed or altered, and they cannot adapt to other habitats. As a result, they cannot reproduce or raise their young. Since 1950, Florida has lost many of its native habitats, including almost half of its wetlands, one-fourth of its forests, and most of its tropical hardwood hammocks, scrub, and coastal habitats.
Habitat system
A broad view of habitat as the entire complex of factors that animals and plants need for long-term survival. These can include other animals, natural forces, or particular territories (which, for animals such as the Florida panther or black bear, can be hundreds of square miles). Habitat needs vary depending on the season, the available food, breeding activities, and need for shelter. Encroaching urban and agricultural development creates "islands," isolating wildlife populations that historically were contiguous. These fragmented populations may then die out because they lack food, shelter, or reproductive opportunities, or because their gene pool is not large enough to protect against the weakening effects of inbreeding.
(1) Biological half-life is the time required for a pollutant to lose half its effect on the environment. For example, the half-life of the pesticide DDT in the environment is 15 years.
(2) The time required for half the atoms of a radioactive element to undergo decay. For example, the half-life of radium is 1,580 years; plutonium, 26,000 years. (3) The time required to eliminate one-half of a total dose from the body.
In Florida, an area often higher than its wetter surroundings, characterized by hardwood forests of broad-leafed evergreens such as oaks, sweetgums, hickories, palms, and hollies.
Any tree, usually broad leafed and deciduous, that has compact, heavy wood, such as oak, maple, walnut, hickory, locust, and sweetgum.
Harmful Algae Bloom (HAB)
A rapid increase in the population of cyanobacteria, phytoplankton or macroalgae which causes negative impacts to other organisms via production of natural toxins, mechanical damage or by other means.
A euphemism for killing or collecting that takes place under a management plan when a species in a particular area becomes a nuisance, or is stressed or diseased because of overpopulation and accompanying food shortages. Also refers to a commercial use, such as pine-tree harvesting.
Hazardous substance
Any substance that threatens human health and/or the environment. Hazardous substances are typically toxic, corrosive, ignitable, explosive, or chemically reactive. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also lists other hazardous substances that may not have these characteristics.
Hazardous waste
Byproducts of society that can be hazardous to human health or the environment, and that usually possess at least one of the four characteristics of hazardous substances.
The source and upstream waters of a stream or river, such as a lake or wetland.
Health advisory
An alert for pollution or other conditions that can harm humans if they are exposed.
Heavy metals
Metallic elements with high atomic weights, such as mercury, chromium, cadmium, arsenic, and lead. They can damage or kill living things even in low concentrations. Heavy metals can accumulate in the food chain and in sediments at the bottom of water bodies, where they can be stirred up by dredging.
A plant with little or no woody tissue that dies down at the end of a growing season.
A chemical substance that controls or destroys plants, weeds, or grasses. About half the pesticides sold each year in the United States are herbicides.
An animal that feeds on plants.
See Hydrochlorofluorocarbons.
See Hydrofluorocarbons.
Human health advisory
Guidance provided by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, State agencies or scientific organizations, in the absence of regulatory limits, to describe acceptable contaminant levels in drinking water or edible fish.
See Relative Humidity.
Hydric soil
A soil that in its undrained condition is saturated, flooded, or pooled long enough during the growing season to develop anaerobic conditions that favor the growth and regeneration of hydrophytic vegetation (plants adapted to wet areas).
An exotic weed that is an aquatic nuisance species which can grow from the bottom of the waterbody to the surface inhibiting water flow, recreation and can alter water chemistry levels.
Organic chemical compounds consisting mainly of carbon and hydrogen. They often occur in petroleum, natural gas, coal, and bitumens. This group of compounds includes the naturally occurring hydrocarbons produced by plankton, as well as many petroleum-based products like gasoline and motor oil. Chlorinated hydrocarbons, a subclass of hydrocarbons, are human derived and generally toxic.
Hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs)
Recently developed substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). While chemically related to CFCs, they do less damage to the ozone layer in the Earth's upper atmosphere. HCFCs are still potent greenhouse gases, however, and thus far from being a perfect replacement for CFCs.
Hydrodynamic model
A tool that tries to represent or predict the motion of water. It is usually implemented as a computational model, although physical models can also be built.
Hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs)
Recently developed substitutes for chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). HFCs, because they contain no chlorine, do not damage the ozone layer in the Earth's upper atmosphere.
A graph showing stage, flow, velocity, or other property of water with respect to time.
Hydrologic cycle
The global cycle of water movement from the atmosphere to Earth and back. Water in the atmosphere that condenses and precipitates as rain, snow, or ice falls to Earth. Some evaporates into the atmosphere from surface waters. Plants also take up water through their roots and then transpire water vapor into the atmosphere through their leaves. The combined process of evaporation and transpiration is referred to as evapotranspiration. Water also seeps into the ground and recharges aquifers, and eventually resurfaces to evaporate again. Because water is extremely stable at a molecular level, we are using the same water that has flowed through the hydrologic cycle for millions of years. See also Hydrology.
The science that deals with water as it occurs in the atmosphere, on the surface of the ground, and underground. More Information: Hydrology »
The cyclical frequency of water in a particular area. Certain plants such as cypress need seasonal flooding to reproduce.
Hydrophytic vegetation
Plant life growing in water or in a place that is at least periodically deficient in oxygen because of high water levels.
A water body in an accelerated state of eutrophication, caused by an increase in nutrient levels that encourages rapid plant growth. It is usually caused by human activities such as stormwater runoff containing large quantities of fertilizers.
Low levels of dissolved oxygen in water, which usually result in fish kills and decrease plant growth.


Impaired water
Condition of the quality of water that has been adversely affected for a specific use by contamination or pollution. More Information: Impaired Waters »
In an animal species, breeding between the same or closely related stocks which reduces genetic diversity and can cause undesirable recessive characteristics to appear.
Incidental catch
The capture and killing in fishing equipment of animals that are not targeted, such as dolphins and turtles. Also called bycatch. Incidental catches of sea turtles can be prevented by using special turtle excluder devices (TEDs).
Incidental taking
The destruction of individuals in a species that results from, but is not the purpose of, an otherwise legal activity.
Index of Biotic Integrity
An aggregated number, or index, based on several attributes or metrics of a fish community that provides an assessment of biological conditions.
Indicator species
In biology, an organism, species, or community whose characteristics show the presence of specific environmental conditions. For example, canaries were used in mines to indicate the presence of dangerous gases. The birds would die at low levels of exposure and thus warn the miners of dangerous conditions. Other indicators are used to demonstrate the presence of a healthy ecosystem. For instance, the red-cockaded woodpecker is considered an indicator species for a healthy, mature pine forest ecosystem because it nests only in pines 70 years old or older. See also Keystone Species.
Injection well
A well that injects wastewater fluids into underground formations. Florida has five classes of injection wells, which are used to dispose of treated municipal effluent, stormwater, and industrial and hazardous wastes.
Inquiry-based learning
A student-centered, teacher-guided instructional approach that involves the active participation of students in the learning process, usually through research and special projects.
Integrated plant management
A multi-faceted plan for controlling invasive vegetation with the goal of improving ecosystems and habitat, using a combination of biological, chemical and mechanical methods.
Intermittent wetland
A wetland that dries up periodically.
Invasive plant species
See Aquatic nuisance species; See Exotic species.
An atmospheric condition caused by a layer of warm air that prevents cooling air trapped beneath it from rising. This stops pollutants from rising and dispersing, and can cause an air pollution episode.
An animal without a backbone, such as an insect, spider, mollusk, or jellyfish.
Isolated wetland
A wetland not connected by a river or lake to other bodies of surface water.


A pier or wall built out into a body of water to control currents.
Jurisdictional wetlands
Wetlands whose uses are strictly controlled by a governmental agency.


Water-soluble limestone, dolomite, and gypsum beds in which water has dissolved underground cavities, producing fissures, sinkholes, underground streams, and caverns. Florida has numerous karst formations.
Keystone species
A species whose niche (occupation) in its ecosystem is vital to the survival of many other species. The disappearance of keystone species thus leads to a series of extinctions in an ecosystem.


(1) A shallow artificial pond where sunlight, bacterial action, and oxygen work to purify wastewater, store wastewater, or store spent nuclear fuel rods; or (2) a shallow, naturally formed body of water with little tidal circulation, often separated from the sea by coral reefs or sandbars. Because of their shallow, warm water and abundant food sources, lagoons are hatcheries and nurseries for most sea life. Most wastes that enter them are not flushed out to sea, and thus lagoons are extremely vulnerable to pollution.
Natural or enhanced natural impoundment of water formed by various geological, tectonic, and physicochemical processes including, but not limited to glaciation; meander isolation (e.g., oxbow lakes); land subsidence; spring upwellings, and subterranean erosion and consequent surface collapse (e.g., sinkhole lake). Contrast with reservoirs. See also Reservoir.
Lake Vegetation Index (LVI)
A multi-metric index that evaluates how closely a lake plant community resembles one which would be expected in a condition of minimal disturbance. It is based on a rapid field assessment of aquatic and wetland plants as integrators of various effects of human disturbance over time.
See Florida LAKEWATCH.
Land acquisition programs
The Florida Department of Environmental Protection purchases environmentally sensitive lands through the Florida Forever program in order to restore damaged environmental systems, for water resource management, increase public access and increase protection of land by acquisition and conservation.
Land Cover
The ecological status and physical structure of the vegetation on the land surface. More Information: Land Cover »
Land development regulations (LDRs)
For Florida counties and cities, regulations that are consistent with and that implement local comprehensive plans required under Florida's Growth Management Act.
Land Use
The primary or primary and secondary uses of land, such as cropland, woodland, pastureland, etc. The description of a particular land use should convey the dominant character of a geographic area, and thereby establish the types of activities which are most appropriate and compatible with primary uses. More Information: Land Use »
Generally, a land disposal area for waste. (1) A sanitary landfill is a land disposal site for nonhazardous solid wastes in which the waste is spread in layers, compacted, and covered at the end of each day. (2) Secure chemical landfills are disposal sites for hazardous waste. They are chosen to minimize the release of hazardous substances into the environment. No known technology exists, however, to prevent a landfill from leaking eventually.
Land trust
A nonprofit corporation established by the members of a community to buy and protect environmentally important areas, and to help local governments make land acquisition decisions.
See Land development regulations.
The liquid that results when water seeps through landfill wastes, agricultural pesticides, or fertilizers. It contains a mix of suspended and dissolved materials that can be hazardous or toxic. Leaching may occur in industrial operations, farms, feedlots, and landfills. It can pollute surface water, groundwater, or soil.
See Bubble.
Level of service standards
Standards used to measure the adequacy of public facilities addressed in local comprehensive plans, covering such facilities as roads, sewer, solid waste, drainage, potable water, parks and recreation, and mass transit. Local governments are required to plan to meet the future demand for the facilities and services of the population they project, without falling below the levels of service they themselves have set. See also Watershed Management Plans.
A sedimentary rock consisting chiefly of calcium carbonate, primarily in the form of the mineral calcite.
Limiting factor
A condition whose absence or concentration may affect a species or population's ability to grow or survive.
The study of the physical, chemical, meteorological, and biological characteristics of fresh water.
A relatively impermeable barrier designed to prevent leachate from leaking into the soil below or next to a landfill. Liner materials include plastic and dense clay.
Littoral zone
The shallow zone along the shoreline of a body of water, containing rooted plants that provide important habitat for other aquatic species.
Littoral drift
The process by which sand is constantly carried along Florida's coasts by wave action.
An amount of water, sediment, nutrients, pollutants, heat, etc. that is introduced into a receiving water. Loading may be either of anthropogenic origin (pollutant loading) or natural (natural background loading). See also Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).
Low Impact Development (LID)
An environmentally-sensitive approach to developing land and managing stormwater runoff through better integration of the built environment with the natural environment, using natural features of the land to provide ecosystem services. LID principles and practices allow a developed site to maintain its predevelopment watershed and ecological functions.


Bottom-dwelling aquatic invertebrate animals large enough to be seen with the naked eye. They consist mainly of insects, shrimp, crayfish, clams, snails, and worms. The analysis of the quantity and type of macroinvertebrate species is used as an indicator of water quality. Polluted areas tend to have large numbers of only a few macroinvertebrate species that can tolerate decreased oxygen levels, while non-polluted areas tend to have smaller numbers of many different kinds of macroinvertebrate species. More Information: Macroinvertebrates »
Aquatic plants growing in or near water, which are generally beneficial and are excellent indicators of watershed health. An overabundance can result from high nutrient levels and may be detrimental.
Maintenance dredging
The periodic removal of shoals or sediments from existing navigational channels associated with deep water and commercial shipping. Dredging destroys habitat in the areas dredged as well as the land areas where the dredging spoil is placed.
Warm-blooded animals, excluding birds, that have hair, produce live young, and nurse their young.
Mangrove swamp
A type of coastal wetland found mainly in the southern half of the state, dominated by white mangrove, red mangrove, or black mangrove. Mangroves, a tropical species, are very hardy-having become adapted to a harsh environment where water and salinity levels fluctuate. Freshwater flows bring nutrients into the system and reduce salt stress. Mangrove swamp sediments contain little or no oxygen, but special pores in the tree's exposed roots allow them to "breathe." These species grow densely in sheltered, brackish coastal areas; provide important food, nesting, and nursery habitats for numerous species, including fish, crabs, and shrimp; and buffer the shoreline from storm erosion.
Marsh Lake
Generally shallow, open water area within wide expanses of freshwater marsh; still water or flow-through; peat, sand or clay substrate; variable water chemistry, but characteristically highly colored, acidic, soft water with moderate mineral content (sodium, chloride, sulfate); oligo-mesotrophic to eutrophic. Occurs statewide except Florida Keys.
Maximum contaminant level (MCL)
As mandated by the 1974 federal Safe Drinking Water Act, the maximum permissible level of a contaminant in water delivered to any user of a public drinking-water system. See also Total Maximum Daily Loads; See also Safe Drinking Water Standards.
Mean high water
The average height of all high waters recorded at a given place over a period of time. See also Water level.
Mean low water
The average height of all low waters recorded at a given place over a period of time. See also Water level.
A heavy metal that can accumulate in the environment, mercury is extremely toxic if breathed or swallowed. It is used in exterior latex paints as a mildew inhibitor as well as in pesticides, batteries, and various industrial processes. In humans it can cause central nervous system damage, liver and kidney damage, and fetal abnormalities. Mercury contamination has been found in surface waters and fish throughout Florida, with the highest levels being found in parts of South Florida. The contamination has also been found in panthers, predators at the top of their food chain. While studies are now being conducted, the cause of the contamination is not yet known. Possible sources include municipal solid waste incinerators and the burning of sugarcane wastes.
Related to conditions of moderate moisture or water supply. Used to describe organisms occupying moist habitats.
Describes lakes with moderate quantities of nutrients, found in areas with more fertile soils or where nutrients from stormwater runoff flow into lake water.
Information about data; it may describe its content, quality, condition, source, time collected, limitations, geographic extent, or other characteristics.
Microscopic organisms such as algae, animals, viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoa, some of which can cause disease.
An organism of microscopic or submicroscopic size, especially a bacterium or protozoan.
Minimum Flows & Levels (MFL)
The limit at which further water withdrawals will cause significant harm to the water resources of the area and the related natural environment. Lakes, aquifers, rivers and streams have minimum levels. More information about lake water levels is contained here.
Creating, enhancing, or restoring wetlands to compensate for those on a particular site that will be destroyed for development. Most mitigation projects to create wetlands do not succeed because of a lack of maintenance and follow-up. Forested wetlands such as bayheads, which are particularly complex ecosystems, have never been successfully created or duplicated by humans. Other forested wetlands take many years to mature. Wetlands restoration and enhancement projects are generally more successful. Under the 1984 Warren S. Henderson Wetlands Protection Act, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is required to consider any proposed mitigation in deciding whether to issue or deny a wetlands dredge-and-fill permit application.
Mitigation banking
A relatively new practice that allows developers to trade off the impacts of development on wetlands by buying conservation easements to protect valuable habitats elsewhere, rather than on site. While such banking helps preserve the large, interconnected tracts of land that provide habitat for many species, it also allows the destruction of smaller wetlands that may be very important to the survival of other species.
Mitigation ratio
The ratio of the wetlands that will be created, restored, or enhanced to the wetlands that will be destroyed, established by the government agencies with jurisdiction over a particular wetland.
Invertebrates such as clams, oysters, slugs, snails, and snails. Octopus and squid, which have interior shells, are also mollusks.
Water diffused in the atmosphere or the ground.
Repeated observation, measurement, or sampling at a site, on a scheduled or event basis, for a particular purpose. See also Fisheries independent monitoring; See also Water quality monitoring.
The place where a stream discharges to a larger stream, a lake, or the sea.
soil Earth made from decaying plant materials. Most of South Florida, as well as large areas around Lakes Okeechobee and Apopka, contains muck soils that have been drained and used for agriculture.
A layer of material such as wood chips, straw, or leaves placed around plants to hold moisture, prevent weak growth, protect plants, and enrich the soil.
Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4)
More commonly known as MS4, these are publicly-owned conveyances or systems of conveyances that are designed or used for collecting or moving stormwater that discharges to surface waters of the State, e.g ditches, curbs, catch basins and underground pipes.


National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS)
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that apply for outside air throughout the country.
National Estuary Program (NEP)
A program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that was established by Congress in 1987 as part of the Clean Water Act to improve the quality of estuaries of national importance. Habitat restoration and protection of estuarine systems are also a focus of the program.
National Hydrography Dataset (NHD)
A comprehensive set of digital spatial data that contains information about surface water features such as lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, springs and wells.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
A federal agency, NOAA's mandate is to conserve and manage wisely the nation's coastal and marine resources, and describe and predict changes in the Earth's environment to ensure sustainable economic opportunities. NOAA administers the National Sea Grant College Program, National Underseas Research Program, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Coastal Resources Research and Development Institute, National Weather Service, and others.
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES)
A permit program established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States. See also Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL).
National Sea Grant College Program
A nation-wide partnership with public and private sectors combining research, education, and technology transfer for public service. A national network of universities meeting changing environmental and economic needs of people, industry, and government in coastal, ocean, and Great Lakes States. Administered by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. See also Florida Sea Grant.
National Weather Service (NWS)
Provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the United States, its territories, adjacent waters and ocean areas, for the protection of life and property and the enhancement of the national economy.
Native species
Species native to a particular geographic area. Because they are part of an ecosystem where everything is interdependent, these species are adapted to local foods, soil and weather conditions, and pests and diseases. Native plants, for example, need less water, fertilizer, and pesticides than species not adapted to that particular location.
Natural pesticides
Pesticides derived from naturally occurring compounds. Although they can be very toxic, they often break down more quickly and produce fewer hazardous metabolites than synthetic chemicals.
Natural resource
A material or energy resource not made by humans that is used to meet human needs.
Navigable waters
Traditionally, waters deep and wide enough for navigation by all, or specified sizes of, vessels. Some interpretations state that the vessel can be as small as a canoe or reed boat. Navigable waters in the United States come under federal and state jurisdiction and are included in certain provisions of the federal Clean Water Act.
A nitrogen-containing compound that can exist in the atmosphere or as a dissolved gas in water. Nitrates are found in fertilizers, and human and animal wastes. Nitrate pollution of drinking water is increasing, especially in states like Florida where fertilizers are commonly used and groundwater deposits are relatively shallow and vulnerable to pollution. Nitrites can combine to form toxic nitrosamines, which are mutagenic, teratogenic, and carcinogenic. Nitrates can harm humans and animals; they are especially dangerous to infants. Because they limit the body's ability to carry oxygen to the cells, they can cause brain damage and death.
A biologically important nutrient essential to plant growth, which exists in solid, gaseous, and liquid states. More Information: Nutrient Chemistry »
Nitrogen loading
See Nutrient loading.
Nitrogen oxides (NOx)
Nitrogen oxides, a product of gasoline combustion and fertilizer use, are a major greenhouse gas and also contribute to acid deposition.
Non-indigenous species
Those species found beyond their natural ranges or natural zone of potential dispersal. See also Aquatic nuisance species; See also Exotic species.
Non-point source pollution
Surface-water pollution sources that come from smaller sources in developed urban and agricultural areas. These sources are so numerous and widespread that they are difficult to identify individually. The pollutants-which include oils, greases, and other petroleum products; nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilizers and animal wastes; pesticides; garbage; heavy metals; fecal matter; and silt and sand-are usually carried off the land into surface waters by stormwater runoff. The first inch of stormwater runoff (the first flush) contains the most pollutants. Non-point source pollution also includes freshwater pollution, the salinity changes that result when fresh water is flushed into a saline area such as an estuary or lagoon. See also Total Maximum Daily Load.
Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD)
One of five Water Management Districts authorized by the Florida Statutes to direct wide-ranging programs including flood control, regulatory programs, water conservation, education and supportive data collection and analysis efforts. The Northwest Florida district includes Bay, Calhoun, Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gulf, Holmes, Jackson, Leon, Liberty, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Wakulla, Walton, and Washington counties, and a portion of Jefferson county.
Nuisance species
Undesirable plants and animals, commonly called exotic species.
Elements or compounds essential as raw materials for organism growth and development, such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus. More Information: Nutrient Chemistry »
Nutrient chemistry
See Water Chemistry.
Nutrient loading
The quantities of nutrients, mainly nitrogen and phosphorus, in water. These can come from decaying organic matter or from stormwater runoff containing fertilizers. Generally, higher levels of nutrients accelerate plant growth, increasing the speed with which water bodies fill in. More Information: Nutrient Chemistry »
Nutrient sufficiency
An agricultural technique that provides nutrients only in amounts that plants can use, thus reducing surface-water and groundwater pollution.


The study of the ocean, embracing and integrating all knowledge pertaining to the ocean's physical boundaries, the chemistry and physics of sea water, and marine biology.
Deep, clear lakes with low nutrient supplies that contain little organic matter and have a high dissolved-oxygen level.
Ordinary high-water mark (OHW)
The mark found along the bed and banks of a stream, where the presence of water is so common and long-standing that the soil and vegetation are distinctly different from that of the adjacent upland. It is used to define state-owned sovereignty lands.
Organic fertilizer
Organic materials-including manures, compost, and green crops such as legumes-that are plowed into the soil. These materials add plant nutrients, hold moisture, and reduce soil erosion. See also Composting.
Organic matter
Material derived from living or once-living plants or animals.
Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
The relatively shallow submerged lands adjacent to the United States.
The place where effluent is discharged.
Overland flow
The flow of rainwater or snowmelt over the land surface toward stream channels. After it enters a stream, it becomes runoff.
Oxygen demand
The quantity of oxygen used by an aquatic system during a given period.
Ozone (O3)
A gaseous form of oxygen found in the atmosphere. In the troposphere (the layer that extends from the Earth's surface to as much as 12 miles up), ozone is a chemical oxidant and a major component of photochemical smog. Here it is produced through the complex chemical reactions of nitrogen oxides (among the primary pollutants emitted by combustion sources); hydrocarbons (emitted by the combustion, handling, and processing of petroleum products); and sunlight. In the stratosphere (the layer above the troposphere), ozone is a form of oxygen found naturally. It forms a protective layer that shields the Earth from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation on humans and the environment.
Ozone is an unstable, poisonous, oxidizing agent with a pungent, irritating odor that can have serious effects on the human respiratory system; it is used to purify water and air, and as a bleach. Ozone is one of the most prevalent of all the criteria pollutants for which the federal Clean Air Act requires standards.


Very small separate particles composed of organic or inorganic matter.
Microorganisms that can cause disease; they may be bacteria, viruses, fungi, or protozoans.
The movement of water through a porous substance such as soil downward and outward to the water table and to underground aquifers.
The mat of algae covering logs, aquatic plants, or areas such as the Everglades floor-which is key to that ecosystem's cyclical regeneration. The periphyton layer contains eggs, spores, seeds, and matter to fertilize new plant growth, and is also a useful indicator of water quality.
Permeable Pavement
A pavement system that allows water to seep through its surface, allowing natural filtration. It may also aid in the removal of impurities and pollution from rainwater.
Permit program
Water pollution degrades surface waters making them unsafe for drinking, fishing, swimming, and other activities. As authorized by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls water pollution by regulating point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States.
A characteristic of some chemicals such as certain pesticides that do not break down through chemical or microbial action, or that break down very slowly, remaining in the environment for longer than a growing season.
A chemical substance to prevent, destroy, or repel any insect, animal, fungus, or plant that is a pest; or a substance used as a plant regulator, defoliant, or dessicant. Pesticides are grouped into three major categories: chlorinated hydrocarbons (or organochlorines), organic phosphates (or organophosphates), and carbamates. Depending on the particular chemical used, pesticides can be broad or selective in their effects. Almost 60,000 formulations have been registered. Annually, the United States produces about one billion pounds of pesticides.
can bioaccumulate in living organisms, bioconcentrate in organisms at the top of their food chain, and persist in the environment for long periods. While research continues on more specific, fast-acting, and easily degradable compounds, persistent chemicals are still commonly used, and contamination from long-banned but persistent pesticides such as DDT remains a problem.
A naturally occurring, oily, flammable liquid found under the Earth's surface, either in seepages or reservoirs. It is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons of different types with small amounts of other substances.
"pH" Stands for "potential of hydrogen". It is a measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a liquid or solid. pH values from 0 to 7 indicate varying levels of acidity; from 7 to 14, alkalinity. A pH of 7 is neutral. Substances with values below 2 or above 12.5 are considered hazardous substances under the federal corrosivity standard.
The scientific study of cyclical biological events, such as flowering, breeding, and migration, in relation to climatic conditions. Phenological records of the dates on which seasonal phenomena occur provide important information on how climate change affects ecosystems over time.
An essential chemical food element that can contribute to the eutrophication of lakes and other water bodies by fostering the growth of plant life. Phosphorus pollution is primarily caused by urban or agricultural stormwater runoff containing fertilizers, or by runoff that contains animal manure. More Information: Nutrient Chemistry ».
Phosphorus loading
See Nutrient loading.
The process by which plants manufacture carbohydrates and oxygen from carbon dioxide and water in the presence of chlorophyll, using sunlight as an energy source. See also Dissolved Oxygen.
The part of the plankton community comprising microscopic aquatic plants, mainly algae. Their growth depends on solar radiation and nutrients. Because they are able to incorporate as well as release materials to the surrounding water, phytoplankton have a profound effect on water quality. They are primary food producers in the aquatic environment and, because so many are present in the world's oceans, contribute to the global oxygen balance. They include blue-green algae, diatoms, and green algae.
A plant community of pines, including pine flatwoods, rocklands, and commercial pine plantations.
Floating or weakly swimming aquatic plants and animals that live in the open water of lakes and rivers, and that form the base of the ocean food chain.
Plant management
See Vegetation Management.
Point source pollution
A specific, identifiable point of origin from which any pollutant that harms plant, animal, or human life is physically discharged into the environment. Point sources include industrial facilities, landfills, sewage treatment plants, and mines. They include thermal (or heat) pollution from industries and power plants, as well as wastes and other pollutants from boats. See also Total Maximum Daily Load.
Pollutant Chemicals
or refuse material released into the atmosphere or water or onto the land. More Information: Impaired Waters »
Pollutant Loading Models
See Total Maximum Daily Load.
Generally, the presence of matter or energy whose nature, location, or quantity produces harmful or undesired environmental effects on humans, animals, or plants. More Information: Impaired Waters »
While there have been many attempts to differentiate between ponds and lakes, the overwhelming volume of literature defend that natural ponds are small natural lakes. Variously, 'pond' is used to describe relatively small, manmade impoundments such as those constructed for aquaculture; livestock watering; erosion control; irrigation water storage; stormwater catchment, and waste treatment to name a few. Manmade ponds may also be referred to as reservoirs.
A group of organisms, all of the same species, which occupies a particular area. Also, the total number of individuals of a species within an ecosystem, or of any group of similar individuals.
Population density
The number of individuals of a species in a particular area.
Post-development runoff
To minimize flooding, a Florida stormwater standard for all new construction or large-scale renovation. Post-development runoff must equal predevelopment runoff.
Potable Water
Water that is safe and pleasant for human consumption.
Any or all forms of water particles that fall from the atmosphere, such as rain, snow, hail, and sleet. The act or process of producing a solid phase within a liquid medium.
Predevelopment runoff
A Florida stormwater standard for all new construction or large-scale renovation, established to reduce the potential for flooding. Predevelopment runoff must equal post-development runoff.
Prescribed burn
A management plan in which burning is carried out under close supervision, in areas where periodic fires are a part of the ecosystem and crucial to the survival of numerous fire-adapted species of animals and plants. Also called a controlled burn.
The exertion of force upon a surface by a fluid (e.g., the atmosphere) in contact with it.
Pressure Tendency
The character and amount of atmospheric pressure change during a specified period of time, usually 3-hour period preceding an observation.
Primary standards
Regulatory standards that place limits on drinking-water contaminants posing a risk to health, including radiation, coliform bacteria, and sulfates.
Primary treatment
See Wastewater Treatment.
The earliest condition of the quality of a water body; unaffected by human activities.
Protected species
Species whose population is declining in the wild, from human or other causes, that are protected by special federal or state laws. Both the federal government and Florida have lists of endangered and threatened species, while Florida also lists species of special concern.
Public drinking-water system
A system that provides piped water for human consumption to at least fifteen (15) service connections or that regularly serves twenty-five (25) or more individuals.
Pumping station
A mechanical device in a sewer or water system or other pipeline that moves liquids to a higher level.
Pumping out water from lakes in order to expose thick bottom sediments, which are then oxidized and consolidated. Because the process is more expensive than a drawdown, it is generally used with smaller lakes in urban areas, where lake pollution is a health hazard or reduces property values.


Quality Assurance
Evaluation of quality-control data to allow quantitative determination of the quality of chemical data collected during a study. Techniques used to collect, process, and analyze water samples are evaluated.


Any form of energy that gives off high-energy rays or particles; often used to refer to the rays emitted by the spontaneous disintegration of an atomic nucleus. Depending on the type of radiation and amount of exposure, radiation can cause death, various cancers, sterility, and fetal damage or death. Electromagnetic fields, infrared light, microwaves, and ultraviolet light are also forms of radiation.
A colorless, naturally occurring, radioactive, inert gaseous element formed by the radioactive decay of radium atoms in soil or rocks. Radon can be carried into a building through water pipes, released as a gas when water runs through a showerhead or faucet, and then inhaled. It can also enter buildings through cracks in the foundation or the spaces around pipes. Radon contamination is especially prevalent in North and Central Florida.
Rain garden
Also known as a bioretention area, rain gardens are shallow-planted depressions, typically 2"-18", that are designed to retain or detain storm water before it is infiltrated or discharged downstream.
The amount of precipitation of any type, primarily liquid. It is usually the amount that is measured by a rain gauge. More Information: Rainfall »
Rapid infiltration basin (RIBs)
An elevated basin built to hold treated sewage effluent, which percolates through the soil and eventually recharges aquifers. RIBs work best in areas with well-drained soils.
Raw materials
Substances in a natural state before they go through manufacturing or processing.
Real-time data
Data collected by automated instrumentation and telemetered and analyzed quickly enough to influence a decision that affects the monitored system. More Information: Data Download
Receiving waters
Rivers, streams, lakes, or any body of water into which wastewater is discharged.
area (also called high-water-recharge area or high-recharge area) A land area in which water rapidly percolates through the soil to recharge underground aquifers. In Florida, much recharge takes place on sandy, well-drained uplands, which are also ideal for development. The loss of recharge areas to development reduces aquifer recharge and spring flows, and increases saltwater intrusion. Recharge can be natural (from rainfall) or artificial (from ponds or irrigation systems that use stormwater or wastewater).
Reclaimed water
Water that has received at least secondary treatment and is reused after flowing out of a water treatment facility.
The "reasonable" restoration of productivity to lands made barren through processes such as erosion, mining, or land clearing. Some lands, however, such as those that have been strip mined, regain some productivity but are permanently altered from their original states because of changes to the soil's underlying hydrological structure.
Minimizing waste by collecting, separating, and reprocessing a wide range of consumer products such as cans, newspaper, glass, and plastic. Many industrial substances such as solvents and metals can also be recycled. These all contain resources that would otherwise have to be disposed of as solid or hazardous waste.
Red tide
The proliferation of a toxic marine plankton that often causes fish kills and can contaminate certain edible shellfish. Red tide is a natural phenomenon that can be stimulated by the addition of nutrients. More Information: Impaired Waters »
Rules that outline specific procedures developed by federal or state agencies which are used to implement laws.
Relative Humidity
A dimensionless ratio, expressed in percent, of the amount of atmospheric moisture present relative to the amount that would be present if the air were saturated. Since the latter amount is dependent on temperature, relative humidity is a function of both moisture content and temperature. As such, relative humidity by itself does not directly indicate the actual amount of atmospheric moisture present. See also Dew Point.
The process of moving species from an area destined for destruction and/or development. It often has negative effects both on relocated and resident species, causing increased stress, the spread of disease, overpopulation, and increased competition for resources.
See Bioremediation.
A manmade impoundment of water, usually relatively large and typically constructed by the damming of a stream. Frequently, misnamed 'lakes', the limnology - hydrology and hydraulics; geomorphology; geomorphometry; factors affecting species and community develop and distribution, and aging - of reservoirs are considerably different that that of lakes, and the two should not be confused. Reservoirs have been constructed for hydroelectric power generation; flood control; steam, coal, gas and nuclear-fired power generation cooling water, as well as for large scale irrigation water storage.
Measures taken to return a site to its natural state.
Retention pond
An artificial pond used to store stormwater so that it eventually recharges underground aquifers, instead of being released into surface waters.
Using objects or materials again, or finding new uses for them so they are not thrown away. In wastewater treatment, reuse means using the water for non-potable needs after treatment, such as for irrigation or cooling.
In mined areas, vegetation cover that returns the restored area to its pre-mining condition.
A facing of stone, cement, sandbags, or other stable material used to protect a wall or bank of earth from erosion.
See Rapid infiltration basins.
Riparian habitat
Areas adjacent to rivers and streams that often have a high density, diversity, and productivity of plant and animal species compared with nearby uplands.
Large boulders, rocks, or clean concrete rubble used to protect a shore, wall, or bank of earth from the force of waves or erosion.
A natural stream of water of considerable volume, larger than a brook or creek.
River basin
The land area drained by a river and its tributaries.
River floodplain lake
A meander scar, backwater, or larger flow-through body within major river floodplains; sand, alluvial or organic substrate; colored, alkaline or slightly acidic, hard or moderately hard water with high mineral content (sulfate, sodium, chloride, calcium, magnesium); mesotrophic to eutrophic. Occurs statewide except extreme southern peninsula and Florida Keys.
A rough surface limestone rock on Florida's lower east coast, often characterized by flatwoods.
A breeding or nesting place for some gregarious mammals and birds.
See Stormwater.


Safe Drinking Water Standards
Regulations established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that controls the amount of pollutants allowed in the nation's drinking water. See also Impaired Waters.
St. Johns River Florida Water Management District (SJRWMD)
One of five Water Management Districts authorized by the Florida Statutes to direct wide-ranging programs including flood control, regulatory programs, water conservation, education and supportive data collection and analysis efforts. The St. Johns River district includes Nassau, Duval, Clay, St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler, Volusia, Seminole, Brevard, and Indian River counties, and portions of Baker, Alachua, Marion, Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Okeechobee counties.
Saline water
Water with more than 1,000 milligrams per liter of dissolved solids that is usually considered unsuitable for human consumption and less desirable for irrigation because it damages most crops. Saline levels are usually expressed as milligrams per liter (mg/L) of dissolved solids; 35,000 mg/L is defined as seawater.
The relative concentration of salts, usually sodium chloride, in a given water sample. It is usually expressed in terms of the number of parts per thousand (0/00) or parts per million (ppm) of chlorine (Cl). Although the measurement takes into account all of the dissolved salts, sodium chloride (NaCl) normally constitutes the primary salt being measured. See also Total Dissolved Solids. More Information: Salinity » (NALMS)
Salt marsh
A type of coastal wetland found mainly in the northern half of the state, salt marshes are tidal marshes dominated by dense, low-growing grasses and other species that can tolerate fluctuating wet and dry conditions, temperatures, oxygen levels, and salinity levels. These marshes provide essential habitat for most commercially important fish and shellfish, as well as nesting and feeding grounds for many bird species.
Saltwater intrusion
The intrusion of salt water into surface waters or groundwater. Salt water underlies all Florida's freshwater supplies, but the fresh water floats because it is lighter. Salt water flows in laterally or vertically to take the place of fresh water for a number of reasons: removing large amounts of fresh water from the aquifer, periodic droughts, building canals that drain underground fresh water to the ocean, allowing poorly built and un-maintained artesian wells, and reducing the amount of freshwater recharge by paving over land.
A submerged ridge of alluvial sand in shallow water.
Sandhill upland lake
A generally rounded solution depression in deep sandy uplands; predominantly without surface inflows/outflows; typically sand substrate with organic accumulations toward middle; clear, acidic moderately soft water with varying mineral content; ultra-oligotrophic to mesotrophic. Occurs from the panhandle to the southern peninsula.
Saturated zone
An area under the ground in which all pores and cracks are filled with water under pressure equal to or greater than that of the atmosphere. See also Groundwater.
Hot, dry areas of Florida with deep, sandy soils that usually contain sand pine and thick bushes such as small oaks. Both the plants and animals that live in scrub have adapted to desert-like conditions. Scrub is the most endangered of Florida's habitats because it is considered ideal for development. Some of the state's rarest plants and animals live only in scrub habitat, and exist nowhere else in the world. Because of their high elevation and sandy soil, scrub areas are also usually high-recharge areas.
Flowering underwater plants found in beds in bays, lagoons, and other shallow places along the continental shelf. Seagrasses produce oxygen and provide habitat and breeding and feeding grounds for most economically important fish, crustaceans, and shellfish. Because the grasses are especially sensitive to oil spills and pollution, they are rapidly disappearing because of coastal development and offshore oil-drilling operations. Shrimp trawlers and boat propellers also destroy or damage the grasses, which can take decades to recover. More Information: Seagrass »
Sea-level rise
The rise in the world's oceans that may be occurring as a result of global warming. If atmospheric temperatures continue to rise to the point where polar ice melts, the effects would be dramatic. Many inhabited islands as well as coastal plains and cities would be flooded, forcing millions of people to migrate, affecting drinking-water supplies, altering weather patterns, and destroying wildlife habitats. The United States, with 5 percent of the globe's population, now produces about twenty-five (25) percent of the atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) coming from human sources; increased CO2 levels are believed to be the major cause of the global warming that may now be taking place.
An artificial wall (excluding riprap).
Secchi depth
A visual measure of water clarity, this is the depth at which the pattern on a Secchi disk containing black-and-white markings can no longer be distinguished under water. See also Water Quality Index (WQI).
Soil particles that are or were at one time suspended in and carried by water as a result of erosion and/or re-suspension. The particles are deposited in areas where the water flow is slowed such as in harbors, wetlands, and lakes.
Sedimentary rocks
Rocks formed by the consolidation of loose sediment that has accumulated in layers.
Seepage stream
Upper perennial or intermittent/seasonal watercourse with clear to lightly colored water derived from shallow groundwater seepage. Occurs from the panhandle to the southern peninsula.
Places where substances such as water, oil, or gas reach the surface along planes or fractures.
The human waste from residences and commercial operations that is carried into sewers and drains. It must be treated before discharge into surface waters.
A channel that carries wastewater to a treatment plant, or stormwater to a receiving body of water.
Sheet flow
The slow movement of water over a large, shallow area such as a wetland.
A relatively shallow place in a stream, lake, or sea.
Sinkholes occur when earth on the surface collapses into a subterranean cavity that has formed in a limestone bed. They are common in Florida because porous, water-soluble limestone underlies much of the state. Although sinkhole development is a natural process, it can be accelerated by large-scale withdrawals of groundwater from aquifers, which leave empty cavities.
Sinkhole lake
Typically deep, funnel-shaped depression in limestone base; predominantly without surface inflows/outflows, but frequently with connection to the aquifer; clear, alkaline, hard water with high mineral content (calcium, bicarbonate, magnesium). Occurs statewide.
The management of forest lands for timber.
Sky condition
Used in forecasts to describe the predominant/average sky condition based upon octants (eights) of the sky covered by opaque (non-transparent) clouds.
A swamp or marsh that is connected by a shallow, natural channel to an inlet or body of surface water.
A semisolid residue from air or water treatment processes. Depending on its content, sludge can be a hazardous waste.
A dead tree (called a standing snag) or tree branch. Snags provide important habitat for many species. Their rotting bark and wood, which harbor many insects, are an important source of food and also provide nesting cavities for many birds. Snags are often removed in urban areas, reducing wildlife habitat.
The layer of material at the land surface that supports plant growth. More Information: Soils »
Soil oxidation
In the Everglades and other parts of South Florida, the process by which muck soil that is drained for agricultural use rapidly oxidizes. Using oxygen, the microbes consume the organic carbon in the muck soil for energy. In the process, the phosphorus and nitrogen in organic matter are released; rain then carries these nutrients into adjoining areas, where they alter nutrient balances and encourage the growth of exotic vegetation.
Solid waste
Usually refers to municipal waste, including garbage, yard trash, and white goods.
Source reduction
A term that means reducing pollution at its source. It includes management systems, technologies, and other practices which reduce or eliminate the amount of any hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant entering any waste stream or otherwise released into the environment prior to recycling, treatment, or disposal. The term includes equipment or technology modifications, reformulation or redesign of products, substitution of raw materials and improvements in housekeeping, maintenance, training or inventory control.
South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD)
One of five Water Management Districts authorized by the Florida Statutes to direct wide-ranging programs including flood control, regulatory programs, water conservation, education and supportive data collection and analysis efforts. The South Florida district includes Broward, Collier, Miami-Dade, Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Monroe, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties, and portions of Charlotte, Highlands, Okeechobee, Orange, Osceola and Polk Counties.
Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD)
One of five Water Management Districts authorized by the Florida Statutes to direct wide-ranging programs including flood control, regulatory programs, water conservation, education and supportive data collection and analysis efforts. The Southwest Florida district includes Citrus, Sumter, Hernando, Pasco, Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Hardee and Desoto Counties, and portions of Levy, Marion, Lake, Polk, Highlands and Charlotte Counties.
Spatial data
Information about the location and shape of, and relationships among, geographic features, usually stored as coordinates and topology. See also Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
A group of organisms that interbreeds under natural conditions and produces fertile offspring. (In Latin, species means outward appearance.)
Species of special concern
A designation by the State of Florida for species that are not in immediate danger of extinction but whose numbers are diminishing.
Specific conductance
The ability of water to conduct an electrical current. It increases with an increasing amount and mobility of ions. High specific conductance can be a marker of pollution or salt water intrusion.
The unplanned, widely scattered development of open land.
A place where water from an aquifer flows to the surface through a natural opening.
Spring run
A body of flowing water that originates from a karst spring (porous limestone) and whose primary source of water (more than 50% of its volume) is from the spring; a perennial watercourse with deep aquifer headwaters and clear water, circumneutral pH (5.5 - 7.4) and, frequently, a solid limestone bottom. Occurs from the panhandle to the central peninsula.
Height of the water surface above an established datum plane, such as in a river above a predetermined point that may (or may not) be at the channel floor. See also Water level.
Taking care of and protecting a valuable resource so that it is preserved for use by future generations.
Short for STOrage and RETrieval, acts as a repository for water quality, biological and physical data which is used by state environmental agencies, EPA and other federal agencies, universities, private citizens and others.
Storm sewer
A sewer that carries only surface runoff, street wash, and snow melt from the land. In a separate sewer system, storm sewers are completely separate from those that carry domestic and commercial wastewater (sanitary sewers).
Rainwater or irrigation water that runs over the land and then into surface waters. A form of nonpoint source pollution, stormwater runoff can carry many suspended or dissolved contaminants-including oils, greases, and other petroleum products; fecal matter; organic debris; fertilizers and pesticides; trash; and silt and sand-from the air and land into the water. It is usually expressed in inches of water uniformly distributed over the area that contributes the water. The first inch of stormwater runoff, called the first flush, contains the highest levels of pollution.
Stormwater utility
A utility that works much like electric, water, or sewage treatment facilities. A user fee is charged for each parcel of land, based on the amount of stormwater runoff it generates.
Stream flow
The discharge of water in a natural channel. More Information: Stream Flow and Levels »
Stream order
A stream order is a way to define the size of perennial streams (those with water continuously throughout the year) and recurring streams (those with water only part of the year). The smallest tributaries are classified as first order, and they often are given a value of one by scientists. A joining of two first-order streams then forms a second-order stream. When two second-order streams combine, they form a third-order stream, and when two third-order streams join, they form a fourth and so on.
Bacteria found in the intestines of warm-blooded animals (called fecal streptococcal). Their presence in water verifies fecal pollution that can cause disease in humans.
Submersed zone
The deepest vegetation zone in a water body, where plants grow with their roots, stems and leaves completely under the surface of the water.
The sequence of biological communities that develops after an ecosystem has been damaged or destroyed, until it reaches a state of relative ecological stability called a climax ecosystem.
Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
A heavy, pungent, colorless, gaseous air pollutant emitted mainly by utilities and industries that burn fossil fuels such as coal and oil. Mixed with water vapor and oxygen, it changes into other forms, including sulfuric acid. Sulfur dioxide is a major contributor to acid rain. See also Air-quality index.
The nickname for the 1980 federal Comprehensive Emergency Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), which provides federal funding for the emergency cleanup of major hazardous spills and abandoned or inactive hazardous waste sites.
Surface waters
All bodies of water on the Earth's surface that are naturally open to the atmosphere (such as rivers, lakes, reservoirs, streams, impoundments, seas, coastal and freshwater wetlands, lagoons, and estuaries) and all springs, wells, or other collectors that are directly influenced by surface waters. Because water vapor evaporates from surface waters into the air, surface waters play an essential role in the hydrologic cycle through which all water on the Earth moves. More Information: Water Quality or Hydrology
Surface Water Ambient Monitoring Program (SWAMP)
An effort started in 1991 to revitalize monitoring programs at Florida Department of Environmental Protection to better address the federal and state water quality management and assessment requirements as stated in the Clean Water Act and Florida State Water Policy.
Surface water withdrawal
See Withdrawal.
Suspended solids
Small particles of solid pollutants that float on the surface of, or are suspended in, sewage or other liquids. They are difficult to remove by conventional means.
Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. In order for a project to be considered sustainable it must meet certain key criteria such as, whether it is socially desirable, economically feasible and environmentally neutral.
Suwannee River Water Management District (SRWMD)
One of five Water Management Districts authorized by the Florida Statutes to direct wide-ranging programs including flood control, regulatory programs, water conservation, education and supportive data collection and analysis efforts. The Suwannee River district includes Columbia, Dixie, Gilchrist, Hamilton, Lafayette, Madison, Suwannee, Taylor, and Union counties, and portions of Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Jefferson, Levy, and Putnam counties.
A low tract of land, especially moist or marshy ground; also an artificially created trench that contains standing or flowing water after rainfall.
A kind of wetland, dominated by woody vegetation, that does not accumulate appreciable peat deposits. Swamps can be fresh water, salt water, tidal, or non-tidal.
Swamp lake
Generally shallow, open water area within basin swamps; still water or flow-through; peat, sand or clay substrate; variable water chemistry, but characteristically highly colored, acidic, soft water with moderate mineral content (sodium, chloride, sulfate); oligo-mesotrophic to eutrophic. Occurs statewide except in the Florida Keys.
Relating to the conditions displayed by the environment, atmosphere or a particular animal as they exist simultaneously over a broad area.


Tailwater recovery
The process of collecting irrigation water runoff for reuse in the system. (NALMS)
Tannic acid
One of many naturally occurring organic acids, tannic acid leaches from leaves and other organic material, giving water a tea or coffee color. The water is not polluted but in its natural condition; it has a low pH.
Taxon (plural taxa)
One of the formal categories of organisms used in classification systems. The seven major categories are kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species.
The study of a hierarchical classification system that best reflects the evolutionary history of organisms and the relationships among them.
See Total Dissolved Solids.
The temperature is a measure of the internal energy that a substance contains and is the most measured quantity in the atmosphere. See also Weather.
Tertiary treatment
Advanced cleaning of wastewater that goes beyond the secondary or biological stage. It removes nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen and most suspended solids. Membrane technologies such as reverse osmosis are tertiary treatment processes.
A relatively small-scale, rising air current produced when the Earth's surface is heated (NWS-NOAA). Having to do with heat, as a hot spring (NALMS).
Thermal mass
A mass that is heated-such as brick, tile, or cement-in a solar energy heat-storage system.
- OR -
Materials that absorb heat or coolness and store it for a long period of time. Water and masonry materials can provide thermal mass. Such materials react slowly to temperature variations and are important aspects of any passive heating or cooling system. (NALMS)
Thermal pollution
The discharge of heated water from industrial processes into surface waters; it can alter habitats and affect aquatic plants and animals.
See Trihalomethanes.
Threatened species
A species under special state or federal regulatory protection because its numbers are diminishing.
Tidal flat
An extensive, nearly horizontal, tract of land that is alternately covered and uncovered by the tide and consists of unconsolidated sediment.
Tidal marsh
Low, flat, coastal marshlands traversed by channels and tidal hollows and subject to tidal inundation. Normally, the only vegetation present is salt tolerant. More Information: Tides ».
The rhythmic, alternate rise and fall of the surface (or water level) of the ocean, and connected bodies of water, occurring twice a day over most of the Earth, resulting from the gravitational attraction of the Moon, and to a lesser degree, the Sun. More Information: Tides »
The general configuration of a land surface or any part of the Earth's surface, including its relief and the position of its natural and man-made features.
Total Dissolved Solids (TDS)
All the solids (usually mineral salts) that are dissolved in water. Used to evaluate water quality.
Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL)
TMDLs are set by regulators to allocate the maximum amount of a pollutant that may be introduced into a water body and still assure attainment and maintenance of water quality standards. More Information: Impaired Waters »
Total nitrogen
The level of the nutrient nitrogen in a water body, used as a measure of water quality. Nitrogen is found in fertilizers, human and animal wastes, and organic debris.
Total phosphorus
The level of the nutrient phosphorus in a water body, used as a measure of water quality. Phosphorus is found in fertilizers, human and animal wastes, and organic debris.
Total suspended solids (TSS)
A measure of the suspended organic and inorganic particles in water. High levels of TSS can decrease the amount of oxygen in the water, lower fish growth rates, increase sediments that damage aquatic spawning and nesting habitats, and reduce the amount of food available to aquatic life.
Describing a material that can cause acute or chronic damage to biological tissue following physical contact or absorption. (NALMS)
Toxic pollutant
A substance or combination of substances, including disease-causing agents, which may cause death, disease, behavioral abnormalities, cancer, genetic mutations, physiological malfunctions (including reproductive malfunctions), or physical deformation in organisms or their offspring. See also Total Maximum Daily Load. More Information: Impaired Waters »
Any of a variety of unstable, poisonous compounds produced by some microorganisms and causing certain diseases or physical reactions.(NALMS)
A territorial subdivision, generally considered six miles long, six miles wide, and containing 36 Sections, each section 1 mile square (640 acres). The Township designation is part of a description of the location of land using the survey system (Public Land Survey System-PLSS) of the United States Government and includes the 40-acre subdivision within a quarter, section, township and range. The public land survey system is based on the concept of a township as a square parcel of land six miles on each side. Its location is established as being so many six-mile units east of a north-south line (called the meridian) and so many six-mile units north or south of an east-west line (called the baseline). The township is described by township and range, e.g., T.4N, R.23E. More Information: Location Information
The process by which water passes through living organisms, primarily plants, into the atmosphere as part of the hydrologic cycle.
See Tertiary treatment.
A river or stream flowing into a larger river, stream or lake.
Trihalomethanes (THMs)
A family of organic compounds that are derivatives of methane. Chloroform is the best known of the THMs. They form when the chlorine used to disinfect drinking water reacts with organic matter in the water; some THMs are believed to be carcinogenic.
Trophic state
The measure of a lake's fertility resulting from the quantities of the nutrients nitrogen and phosphorus in its water. More Information; Trophic State Index ».
Referring to the zone between the Tropic of Cancer (23°27'N) and the Tropic of Capricorn (23°27'S); characterized by a climate with high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall. Also can refer to vegetation, organisms, or weather typical of tropical conditions.
See Total suspended solids.
Having sediment or foreign particles stirred up or suspended; muddy.
The measurement of how much light penetrates a water body. Haziness or cloudiness caused by suspended particles or silt. See Also Water Clarity
Turbidity screen
A barrier such as a silt curtain used to prevent turbidity from extending into clear water during dredging or construction.


Unconfined aquifer
A permeable geologic bed only partially filled with water that overlies a relatively impervious underground layer.
Underground injection
Using the subsurface environment to dispose of fluid wastes, including hazardous, industrial, municipal, and radioactive wastes. Deep injection wells discharge into saltwater layers of the aquifers below the freshwater layers from which drinking water is pumped. Shallow injection wells discharge into or above an underground source of drinking water (USDW). Florida has five classes of injection wells, and different standards apply to each, depending on the type of waste. While underground injection has been placed under stricter federal and state controls over the past ten years, a great deal of concern exists about the potential of injection wells to pollute drinking-water supplies.
Underground source of drinking water (USDW)
An aquifer currently being used as a source of drinking water that can supply a public drinking-water system.
Underground storage tank (UST)
A tank designed to hold gasoline or other petroleum products, or chemical solutions, located all or partly underground. While stricter regulatory standards are now in place, many older underground tanks-particularly at gas stations-continue to leak petroleum and other chemicals into aquifers.
The high, usually sandy areas of a region or tract of land. Uplands are particularly valuable in Florida for aquifer recharge; they are also ideal sites for development because they are high and dry.
Toward the source or upper part of a stream; against the current. In relation to water rights, the term refers to water uses or locations that affect water quality or quantity of downstream water uses or locations. (NALMS)
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
See Army Corps of Engineers.
See Underground source of drinking water.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
Works to develop and enforce regulations that implement environmental laws enacted by Congress. EPA is responsible for researching and setting national standards for a variety of environmental programs, and delegates to states and tribes the responsibility for issuing permits and for monitoring and enforcing compliance. Where national standards are not met, EPA can issue sanctions and take other steps to assist the states and tribes in reaching the desired levels of environmental quality.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
A federal agency whose mission is "to conserve, protect, and enhance the Nation's fish and wildlife and their habitats for the continuing benefit of people."
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The sole science agency for the Department of the Interior. It is sought out by thousands of partners and customers for its natural science expertise and its vast earth and biological data holdings. The USGS is the science provider of choice in accessing the information and understanding to help resolve complex natural resource problems across the Nation and around the world.
See Underground storage tank.


The gaseous state of a substance which under ordinary conditions exists as a liquid or solid.
Governmental permission for delaying or exempting compliance with a law, ordinance, or regulation.
Vascular plants
Plants that contain food- and water-conducting structures; higher plants that reproduce by seeds. Ferns are an example of a vascular plant.
Vegetation management
The practice of manipulating the species mix, age, fuel load, and distribution of wildland plant communities within a prescribed management area. It includes prescribed burning, grazing, chemical applications, biomass harvesting, and any other economically feasible methods of enhancing, retarding, or removing the above-ground parts of plants.
Vegetative index
Plant species that various state and federal governmental agencies use to determine jurisdiction over wetlands.
Rate of motion of a stream measured in terms of the distance its water travels in a unit of time, usually in feet per second. (NALMS) See also Stream Flow.
An animal with a backbone; the category includes mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and amphibians.
The smallest form of microorganisms capable of causing disease. See also Bacteria; See also Impaired Waters.
The distance a given standard object can be seen and identified by the naked eye without any assistance.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
VOCs such as trichloroethylene and benzene are synthetic organic chemicals that can be absorbed by the skin or, because they often become gases at normal temperatures, can be easily inhaled. They can also contribute to atmospheric photochemical reactions. Because VOCs tend to evaporate from water, they can be removed through a process of aeration. The chemicals are often used as solvents and degreasers in manufacturing processes.


To walk in or through water or something else that similarly impedes normal movement.
Generally, (1) unwanted materials left over from a manufacturing process, or (2) refuse from places where humans and animals live.
Wasteload allocation (WLA)
The maximum load of pollutants each discharger of waste is allowed to release into a particular waterway. Discharge limits are usually required for each specific water quality criterion.
Waste stream
All the waste a community or a society produces as goods are made, used, and thrown away.
The used water containing dissolved or suspended matter from homes, businesses, or industries.
Wastewater treatment
Any of the mechanical or chemical processes used to modify the quality of waste water in order to make it more compatible or acceptable for human consumption and the environment. (NALMS)
Water Body ID (WBID)
A unique identifier used by the National Hydrography Database to specify a particular surface water body, or a portion of a waterbody (e.g. a stream reach).
Water budget
An accounting of the inflows to, the outflows from, and the storage changes of water in a hydrologic unit or system. (NALMS)
Water chemistry
The type and concentration of ions present (dissolved) in water including nitrogen, chlorophyll, phosphorous. The chemical composition of water influences the types of vegetation, fauna, and soils present in a wetland. Certain types of wetlands have unique water chemistry: estuarine wetlands contain ocean-derived water having low to high salinity; wetlands in arid to sub-humid climates contain water having extremely high salinity. These wetlands have no outflow and high rates of evaporation; wetlands formed in limestone (calcareous rock type) contain alkaline, nutrient-rich water.
Water clarity
Clear water helps optimize water quality conditions and allows sunlight to penetrate into the water column. Materials that become mixed and suspended in the water including sediment and algae can affect the clarity of the water and make the water cloudy or turbid. More Information: Water Clarity »
Water column
The depth from the water's surface to submerged bottom land.
Water conservation
The physical control, protection, management, and use of water resources in such a way as to maintain crop, grazing, and forest lands, vegetative cover, wildlife, and wildlife habitat for maximum sustained benefits to people, agriculture, industry, commerce, and other segments of the national economy. (NALMS)
Water contamination
Impairment of water quality to a degree which reduces the usability of the water for ordinary purposes, or which creates a hazard to public health through poisoning or spread of disease. (NALMS)
Water cycle
See Hydrologic cycle.
Water flow
See Stream flow.
Water level
The water-surface elevation or stage of the free surface of a body of water above or below any datum or the surface of water standing in a well, usually indicative of the position of the water table or other potentiometric surface. See also Stage.
Water Management District (WMD)
One of five state agencies charged with managing regional water quality and quantity as well as administering flood protection programs and developing plans for water shortages in times of drought.
Water planning
An analytical planning process developed and continually modified to address the physical, economic, and sociological dimensions of water use. As a planning process it must assess and quantify the available supply of water resources and the future demands anticipated to be levied upon those resources. (NALMS) See also Watershed Management Plan.
Water quality
A term used to describe the chemical, physical, and biological characteristics of water, usually in respect to its suitability for a particular purpose.
Water-quality criteria
Specific levels of water quality which, if reached, are expected to render a body of water unsuitable for its designated use. Commonly refers to criteria established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Water-quality criteria are based on specific levels of pollutants that would make the water harmful if used for drinking, swimming, farming, fish production, or industrial processes. More Information: Water Quality Index »
Water-quality index (WQI)
A measure of water quality based on biological diversity and water quality-including levels of dissolved oxygen, coliform bacteria, oxygen-demanding substances, and nutrients. More Information: Water Quality Index »
Water quality monitoring
An integrated activity for evaluating the physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of water in relation to human health, ecological conditions, and designated water uses. See also Ambient monitoring system.
Water-quality standards
State-adopted and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-approved ambient standards for water bodies. Standards include the use of the water body and the water-quality criteria that must be met to protect the designated use or uses.
Water resources
The supply of groundwater and surface water in a given area. (NALMS)
Water supply
See Public drinking-water system.
Water table
The upper surface of the groundwater or that level below which the soil is saturated with water.
Water use
Water that is used for a specific purpose, such as for domestic use, irrigation, or industrial processing. Water use pertains to human's interaction with and influence on the hydrologic cycle, and includes elements, such as water withdrawal from surface- and ground-water sources, water delivery to homes and businesses, consumptive use of water, water released from wastewater-treatment plants, water returned to the environment, and in-stream uses, such as using water to produce hydroelectric power.
Waters of the state
Navigable waters of the United States within Florida's territorial limits, including the ocean and inland lakes, rivers, and canals.
The land area that drains into a stream, river, or lake. More Information: Watersheds »
Watershed Management Plan
Purpose of these types of plans is to coordinate potential projects such as land acquisition and habitat restoration, water quality monitoring and assessment, floodplain mapping, hydrologic restoration, flood protection/stormwater management and many others within a certain watershed. These plans are usually developed by the State's water districts such as the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD). More Information: Watersheds »
Water table
The level in the soil below which the ground is saturated with water. Essentially, the water table is the top of the uppermost water-storage area.
A regular movement on a surface or within a material when energy travels through it. On the surface of an ocean or body of water, it is usually in the form of a curving swell or ridge. See also Tide.
The state of the atmosphere with respect to wind, temperature, cloudiness, moisture, pressure, etc. Weather refers to these conditions at a given point in time (e.g., today's high temperature).
A barrier placed across a stream, river, or canal to catch or hold fish, or to raise or divert the water in order to regulate its flow.
A shaft or hole drilled to reach underground water supplies or oil, or to inject fluids below ground.
A group of wells in a particular location.
Wet prairie
A natural community where the soil often contains clay and the water drains very slowly. Consequently, moisture and water content in the soil is very high over long periods of time.
Areas where water stands, or where soils are saturated with water, during all or part of the year. Characterized by vegetation adapted to life in wet conditions, wetlands provide essential habitats for many species. State and federal regulatory agencies determine which areas are wetlands, based on soils, vegetation, or hydrology. Florida has about one-fifth of the wetlands in the United States. Almost half of the state's wetlands have been destroyed. Wetlands may be connected or isolated. Intermittent wetlands dry up periodically, becoming habitat for terrestrial species. Such changes usually benefit native plants and wildlife.
Wildlife corridor
See Habitat system.
Wind Speed
The rate air is moving horizontally past a given point. Wind speed is reported as an average speed, measured over a two-minute timespan, while a wind gust, squall, or peak wind speed is reported as an instantaneous speed.
Wise use
A movement, made up of many groups of citizens and industries across the country with diverse interests, that generally opposes any restrictions on free enterprise and the right of individuals to use their property in any way they wish. Wise-use proponents have advocated fewer controls on the use of natural resources. In the Pacific Northwest, for example, they have supported the use of public wilderness and old-growth forests for timbering. In other areas, they have supported expanded oil and mineral extraction on public lands and opposed recycling programs. In Florida, they have fought against governmental controls on growth and have opposed any wetlands regulation as an infringement on individual property rights. See also Water use.
Water removed from the ground or diverted from a surface-water source for use. Also refers to the use itself; for example, public-supply withdrawals or public-supply use.


A landscaping technique in which the plants used are adapted to dry conditions and require only a small amount of water. As Florida's water resources diminish, xeriscaping will become increasingly important.
Xeric Dry
or desertlike conditions.


Yard trash
Organic material-such as grass clippings, trees, stumps, and tree and shrub trimmings from land-clearing or landscaping operations.


Tiny aquatic animals of many species that form the base of the ocean food chain because they provide an important source of food for larger aquatic animals.

Sources used for the Glossary