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," is the primary cause of water quality impairment throughout the state and causes 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.
June 2013 Actions to Address Nutrient Pollution in Florida
EPA has completed three milestones outlined in an agreement reached in March 2013 for Florida to adopt its own rules to keep harmful nutrient pollution out of statewide waters.
Specifically, EPA has approved the water quality standards included in Florida’s implementation document for nutrient criteria, has amended its January 2009 determination (PDF) (7 pp, 2.7MB) to say that numeric nutrient criteria are unnecessary for limited water bodies, and has requested that the Court amend the consent decree to be consistent with both this and an earlier amended determination.
If the Court agrees to amend the consent decree, EPA will no longer be obligated to promulgate downstream protection values for lakes or estuaries, or numeric nutrient criteria for South Florida flowing waters, marine lakes, and waters that are excluded from the state’s stream definition.
November 2012 Actions to Address Nutrient Pollution in Florida
On November 30, 2012, EPA took multiple actions to help address nutrient pollution in the State of Florida.
- Fact sheet (PDF) (2 pp, 208K)
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, 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.
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 do not cover some coastal waters, many estuaries and a subset of flowing waters, EPA proposed two federal rules that address these water bodies. Together with FDEP’s approved rules, these proposed criteria seek to improve water quality and protect public health, aquatic life and the long-term recreational uses of Florida’s waters, which are a critical part of the state’s economy. More information on EPA’s proposed rules is provided below.
- The first rule (Inland Rule) serves to clarify some provisions in the rule EPA promulgated in 2010 establishing numeric nutrient limits in Florida's streams and rivers.
EPA is also proposing to stay (postpone the applicability) the effective date for this rule to November 15, 2013. EPA is proposing the stay to allow time to gain clarity on the implementation of Florida’s rule.
- The second rule (Coastal Rule) proposes 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.