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EPA Proposes New Water Quality Criteria for Florida

March 2nd, 2010

Florida Water QualityThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that a new nutrient standard is necessary to meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in Florida. In January 2010, the EPA proposed to adopt water quality criteria for total nitrogen and total phosphorus (nutrient pollution) in Florida lakes and streams.

Similar to the human body, bodies of water require nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, to be healthy, but too much can be harmful. According to the EPA, nutrient pollution is one of the top three causes of impairment of the nation’s waters.

Although the EPA has recognized Florida as a national leader in its efforts to manage nutrient-related pollution, substantial water quality degradation from nutrient over-enrichment remains a significant challenge in the state. The EPA plans to promulgate the new standards in October 2010, meaning that lakes and flowing waters will have to meet those new criteria within twelve months and estuaries and coastal waters must comply within twenty-four months.

The combined impact of both urban and agricultural activities along with Florida’s physical features and aquatic ecosystems mean that the current use of the nutrient criteria alone is insufficient to ensure protection of water systems. Likewise, the EPA believes that the increased water quality standards will strengthen the foundation for identifying impaired waters, preparing Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) and developing National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES or stormwater) permits.

The proposed criteria are based on more than a decade’s accumulation of data from Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and represent more than 10,000 observations of nutrient levels, measurements of aquatic system health, and other variables. This is one of the largest data sets developed by a state for the purpose of developing nutrient criteria.

While the EPA’s current regulatory activity will apply only to Florida waters, it could have national significance as it provides considerable insight to the approaches the EPA deems adequate for numeric nutrient criteria for lakes and streams.

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3 Responses to “EPA Proposes New Water Quality Criteria for Florida”

  1. Karen Says:

    In my opinion, a lot of the nutrient issues in the South are due to the narrowing and diking of natural water channels and flood plains. I was born and raised in south Louisiana and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out. The Mississippi River is a perfect example of us trying to control mother nature. The river is not meant to go through New Orleans, it is supposed to drain through the Atchafalaya basin. This is the natural way to get nutrients out of the water and to prevent loss of coastal land and to prevent the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Of course, I realize the Mississippi needs to be navigable, I’m just saying this country needs to think about creative solutions to the nutrient issues instead of just regulating.

  2. curtis Says:

    water quality is virtually self correcting irregardless of man’s shortcomings. it does take time although sometimes it can be drastic. take for example that recently televised science channel program reporting giant jellyfish impact on japanese ocean economics stemming from china’s excessive nutrient yangtsze effluent, over-fishing, warmer climatic trend and other causations. the plankton bloom is automatically sel-corrected by the giant jellyfish exponential growth, causing havoc for netting fisheries. had the plankton bloom not been curbed by giant jellyfish, eutrophication likely proceeds, a worse outcome (oxygen depletion).

    one of the hinging reasons for the cwa was man’s extremity of polluting the great lakes to the point where navigable (commerce, economic stability) waters caught fire. had the cwa been denied approval, self-correction would likely have resulted, for example, the ignitable pollutants would have burned and consumed itself, likely with some adverse impact on trade and commerce.

    here in hawaii, the epa penalized a pflueger estate owner for erosive runoff damage to pristine reef habitat. satellite photo’s show that same reef fully recovered within a matter of one season.

    nature is very powerful. it can even stop man in his own tracks. right now, it is the exponential population growth of man and elevated standard of living which nature eventually will curb, by population reduction, irregardless of man’s technological countermeasures.

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