EPA Moves Forward With Numeric Nutrient Criteria for Florida Waters; Plan Will Begin in 15 Months

by Ben Somberg

November 15, 2010

The EPA announced this morning that it has finalized numeric nutrient criteria for Florida waters -- specific limits on the amounts of nutrient pollutants allowed in the state's water bodies. These criteria will in turn limit discharges by point and non-point sources. Currently, nutrient limits are set only by "narrative" water quality standards -- which have little teeth.

The EPA agreed last year to set the limits following a consent decree reached after a coalition of environmental groups sued the agency. Yee Huang explained in this space why the plan could be a huge step toward cleaning Florida's waters, and could help set a precedent for other states.

Affected industries and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have lobbied hard against the EPA plan. The White House's Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs hosted a meeting on the issue back in January, and another meeting in late October (Greenwire reported a second recent meeting, with environmental groups, though it is not currently listed on the OIRA website).

The EPA went ahead with announcing the plan today. It did say that the standards won't take effect for 15 months, and it will "work closely with the state to determine the next steps to achieve the objectives of the standards." The environmental groups that have worked the issue put out a joint statement today lauding the EPA's announcement.

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