Florida Considers Numeric Nutrient Standards

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is moving forward with draft rules to develop numeric nutrient standards for Florida’s waterways. These rules set limits on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen, also known as nutrients, allowed in Florida’s waters.

Tallahasse, FL, Nov. 3, 2011 -- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is moving forward with draft rules to develop numeric nutrient standards for Florida’s waterways. These rules set limits on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen, also known as nutrients, allowed in Florida’s waters.

The new rules would replace narrative guidelines currently used by Florida to control nutrient runoff from that flows into lakes, rivers, streams and springs.

US EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner issued an announcement granting the agency’s “preliminary” blessing to the Florida draft regulation.

EPA issued numeric nutrient criteria for Florida’s inland water bodies in late 2010 after determining the state’s narrative standards for water quality did not effectively address the nutrient problem. In April, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) submitted a petition requesting that EPA withdraw the rule and refrain from proposing or promulgating any further numeric nutrient criteria. In return, FDEP promised to move forward on its own rulemaking for nutrient criteria.

“Today, I authorized staff to move forward with rulemaking for numeric nutrient standards for Florida,” said DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. said in a statement released this week. “The future of Florida’s environment depends on the health of our water resources, and no one knows our waters better than us. This is the right thing for Florida, and the right thing to do."

If adopted, these rules will be the most comprehensive nutrient pollution limitations in the nation, and will serve to protect Florida rivers, lakes, streams, springs and estuaries.

“Using more than a decade of data collection and analysis, Florida has developed standards that account for the individual characteristics and needs of Florida’s diverse water resources. By setting standards focused on site-specific conditions we are better able to protect public health, improve water quality and preserve aquatic life in Florida’s unique water resources throughout the state,” Vinyard said.

More in Wastewater