Water: Regulatory Information
Consent Decree and Determination - Nutrient Standards for Florida
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On January 14, 2009, EPA determined under CWA section 303(c)(4)(B) that new or revised water quality standards in the form of numeric water quality criteria for nitrogen and phosphorus pollution are necessary to meet the requirements of the CWA in the state of Florida (January 2009 Determination, below). Subsequently, EPA entered into a Consent Decree with Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, and St. Johns Riverkeeper, effective on December 30, 2009, which established a schedule for EPA to propose and promulgate numeric nutrient criteria for Florida’s lakes, springs, flowing waters, estuaries, and coastal waters. (See Consent Decree below.)
Consent Decree to Establish Federal Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida
In December 2009, EPA entered into a Consent Decree with Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra Club, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, and St. Johns Riverkeeper, committing to propose and promulgate numeric nutrient criteria for lakes and flowing waters in Florida by January 14, 2010, and for Florida’s estuarine and coastal waters. The Consent Decree has been revised since December 2009. For the status of EPA rulemakings, see the Inland Rule and the Coastal Rule pages.
- Consent Decree (PDF) (13 pp, 461K)
- Joint Notice to the Court of Extension of Consent Decree Deadlines (PDF) (5 pp, 21K) (June 2010)
- Order Extending the deadline for publishing a Notice of Rulemaking for Lakes and Flowing Waters (PDF) (3 pp, 14K) (October 2010)
- Joint Notice to the Court of Extension of Consent Decree Deadline (PDF) (4 pp, 28K) (September 2011)
- Consolidated Cases (PDF) (86 pp, 232K) (February 2012)
- Order Extending the Deadlines for Proposed and Final Rules for Coastal and Estuarine Waters (PDF) (2 pp, 102K) (March 2012)
- Joint Notice of Extension of Consent Decree Deadlines (PDF) (6 pp, 30K) (May 2012)
- Order Extending the Deadlines for the Remaining Rules (PDF) (2 pp, 157K) (May 2012)
- Order Extending the Phase II (Coastal Rule) Deadlines (PDF) (2 pp, 160K) (July 2012)
- Order Amending the Consent Decree (PDF) (23 pp, 66K) (January 2014)
Amended Determination June 2013
EPA amended its January 2009 Determination to narrow the scope of the original determination consistent with EPA’s conclusion that numeric nutrient criteria are not necessary to meet the requirements of the Clean Water Act for flowing waters in the South Florida Region, marine lakes, tidally influenced flowing waters, and conveyances primarily used for water management purposes with marginal or poor stream habitat components.
- June 2013 Amended Determination (PDF) (7 pp, 2.7MB)
Amended Determination November 2012
EPA amended its January 2009 Determination to specify that numeric criteria for downstream protection are not necessary and that quantitative approaches designed to ensure the attainment and maintenance of downstream water quality standards, such as those established by Florida, are sufficient to meet CWA requirements. EPA asked the District Court presiding over the Consent Decree to modify the Consent Decree consistent with this amended Determination.
- November 2012 Amended Determination (PDF) (4 pp, 1.4MB)
Determination January 2009
After working with the state for a number of years to develop numeric criteria to limit this nutrient pollution, the EPA was sued by the Florida Wildlife Federation which argued that EPA had an obligation to promulgate the standards itself until the state acted. EPA evaluated the situation in Florida and found that the number of waters impaired by nutrient pollution was growing and the state's narrative standards for water quality — descriptions of clean water conditions— did not provide an adequate basis to effectively address the scope and magnitude of the problem. In January 2009, EPA determined numeric limits of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution were necessary, whether issued by the state or EPA.
FDEP Petition April 2011
On April 22, 2011, the FL Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) submitted a petition to EPA's Administrator Jackson requesting her to withdraw EPA's January 2009 determination that numeric nutrient criteria are necessary in Florida, repeal federal rulemaking completed in November 2010 to establish such criteria for inland lakes and streams, and refrain from proposing or promulgating any further numeric nutrient.