EPA Puts in Place Common Sense Standards to Protect Florida Waters

  • Date: November 25, 2010
  • Source: Admin
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The standards will help reduce nutrient pollution in lakes and flowing waters - Florida’s communities and businesses all set to benefit from strong environmental protection and significant flexibility.
In Florida, nutrient pollution has contributed to severe water quality degradation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has laid down protective standards to check water pollution. Phosphorus and nitrogen pollutants, leaching into waterways from excess fertilizer, storm water and wastewater, foster harmful algae blooms. These blooms produce toxins that can harm the flora and fauna across the state. Currently, more than 1,900 rivers and streams, 375,000 acres of lakes, and 500 square miles of estuaries are known to have been polluted by nutrients.
History of the Act:
The Florida Wildlife Federation filed a lawsuit against EPA in 2008, which led the previous administration to conclude in January 2009 under the Clean Water Act that nutrient pollution standards were necessary for Florida. This culminated in a consent decree in August 2009. It required EPA to: adopt specific or “numeric” nutrient pollution standards by November 2010 and issue additional standards for Florida’s coastal waters by August 2012. The underlying science for these standards was to be submitted for review to its independent Science Advisory Board.
Standards in Brief:
According to Peter Silva, Assistant Administrator for the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the new rule will allow the people of Florida to take common sense and cost-effective steps to tackle harmful nutrient water pollution. Specific numeric limits have been set by EPA, on the amount of nutrient pollution allowed. The standards laid down by EPA are based on the best available science and their implementation will be flexible and cost-effective. The environmental agency, which is committed to protecting Florida’s water quality, with the high level of scientific expertise at its disposal and its extensive database on the condition of its waters, played a critical role in shaping the final numeric standards. These new standards will come into effect 15 months from now.
During the 15-month period, EPA will work closely with the state to define the steps necessary to achieve the objectives of the standards. The standards do not advocate a single approach. Conditions obtaining in five different watershed regions will be evaluated and case-by-case adjustments based on local environmental factors will be made, while maintaining water quality.
Environmental Justice
EPA issues an emergency order when there is a potential for imminent and substantial endangerment to public health from contamination or disruption in the public water system. For example, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency Region 8 issued an emergency administrative order, 20 administrative orders, and settled seven penalty actions under the Safe Drinking Water Act in Wyoming from April 1 through September 30, 2010.  On June 6, 2010, EPA Region 8 issued an emergency administrative order against the Town of Dixon after the system ran out of water in its storage tank, leading to a loss of pressure in the distribution system.


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