Water: Regulatory Information
Nutrients Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida
John Moran: close up of Algae on the Santa Fe River 2012
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Clean water is vital for Florida. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus, or "nutrient pollution," are the primary causes of water quality impairments throughout the state and cause algae blooms -- the thick, green muck that fouls clear water. Nutrient pollution threatens human health and the environment, hurts businesses, costs jobs, reduces property values and otherwise impacts the quality of life for all Floridians. Water quality standards help to protect and restore the quality of the nation's surface waters, consistent with the requirements of the Clean Water Act.
EPA Withdraws Inland Rule
On January 7, 2014, the court agreed to amend the Consent Decree to be consistent with the November 2012 (PDF) (4 pp, 1.4MB) and June 2013 (PDF) (7 pp, 2.7MB) amendments to EPA's January 2009 Determination (PDF) (10 pp, 198K). As a result of this ruling, EPA is no longer obligated to promulgate numeric nutrient criteria for Florida's waters. As confirmed in a letter from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, EPA's withdrawal of Federal criteria allows the state of Florida's numeric nutrient criteria to be come effective as the only rules covering Florida water bodies. EPA finalized the withdrawal of its Inland Rule and discontinued work on its proposed Coastal Rule on September 17, 2014, upon signature by the Administrator. For more information, visit the Consent Decree and Determination page.
Previous Actions to Address Nutrient Pollution in Florida
EPA-FDEP March 2013 Agreement
An agreement (PDF) (23 pp, 70K) between EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) outlined milestones that would lead to Florida establishing EPA-approved criteria for the majority of the state's waters.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Rules
FDEP submitted to EPA for approval rules establishing numeric criteria on the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus allowed in Florida’s waterways. After careful review, on November 30, 2012, June 27, 2013, and September 26, 2013, EPA approved FDEP’s rules and supporting documentation as consistent with the requirements of the Clean Water Act and applicable federal regulations for the water bodies they cover. As a result of these approvals, Florida now has numeric nutrient criteria for all fresh water lakess, springs, estuaries and coastal waters, and the majority of flowing waters in the state.
More information about EPA's approval of Florida's nutrient rules can be found here.
In accordance with consent decree requirements and because the state’s rules did not cover some coastal waters, many estuaries and a subset of flowing waters, EPA proposed two federal rules that address these water bodies. More information on EPA’s proposed rules is provided below.
- The first rule (Inland Rule) served to clarify some provisions in the rule EPA promulgated in 2010 establishing numeric nutrient limits in Florida's streams and rivers.
EPA also proposed to stay (postpone the applicability) the effective date for this rule to November 15, 2013.
- The second rule (Coastal Rule) proposed numeric nutrient limits for those estuaries not covered by the state rule, coastal waters, and flowing waters in South Florida.
EPA held two public information sessions about the proposed rules in Tampa, Florida on January 17 and 18. The Agency also held three webinars on January 22, 23, and 24.