INTEGRITY SAFER LAWNS AND HOMES - Green News 2 - Trinity, FL
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 16, 2009
CONTACT: Enesta Jones, EPA, (202) 564-7873/4355                       Dee Ann Miller, DEP, (850) 245-2112 or (850) 519-2898 (cell) 
EPA and Florida DEP Work Together to Restore Florida’s Surface Waters WASHINGTON, DC
 
- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) are taking actions to protect and restore both recreational uses and aquatic life in Florida waters. These actions include EPA issuing a formal determination under the Clean Water Act that “numeric” nutrient water quality criteria are necessary in Florida, and Florida accelerating its efforts to adopt numeric nutrient criteria into state regulations. Numeric nutrient criteria will significantly improve Florida’s ability to address nutrient pollution in a timely and effective manner. "EPA recognizes Florida as a national leader in managing nutrient pollution but more needs to be done," said Benjamin H. Grumbles, EPA’s assistant administrator for water. "Therefore, we are taking the significant step today of requiring numeric nutrient standards for water quality. We look forward to working closely with the State to develop improved standards that will accelerate the protection and restoration of Florida's waters." “The State of Florida recognizes that more needs to be done to address nutrient pollution in our rivers, streams, lakes and estuaries, and these actions will help our State and all of our stakeholders prevent and better manage sources of nitrogen and phosphorus from entering our waters,” said DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole. Excess nitrogen and phosphorus levels (nutrient pollution) in waterbodies can cause harm to aquatic ecosystems and threaten public health. Nutrient pollution can lead to water quality problems such as harmful algal blooms, low-oxygen “dead zones” in water bodies and declines in wildlife and wildlife habitat. These effects also disrupt recreational activities and pose threats to public health.  Water quality degradation from nutrient pollution is a significant environmental issue in Florida. Florida’s 2008 Integrated Water Quality Assessment revealed that approximately 1,000 miles of rivers and streams, 350,000 acres of lakes, and 900 square miles of estuaries are impaired by nutrients. The actual number of miles and acres of waters impaired for nutrients is likely higher, as many waters that have yet to be assessed may also be impaired.  Local governments in Florida have worked to improve wastewater treatment and stormwater management. In addition, many in the agricultural community have implemented best management practices for nutrient control. It takes focused attention by all stakeholders in each watershed to address this challenging issue.  The federal determination is intended to build upon the substantial investments that Florida has made to date in nutrient data collection, analysis, and stakeholder involvement, and is fully consistent with the state and EPA’s commitment to a stronger nutrient control program. The new numeric nutrient water quality standards will help Florida improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its water quality management tools, identify waters impaired because of nutrient pollution, establish total maximum daily loads and Basin Management Action Plans and derive National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit limits. EPA’s decision letter on these actions: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/standards/rules/#det DEP’s 2008 Integrated Report: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/docs/2008_Integrated_Report.pdf DEP’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria Development Plan: http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/wqssp/nutrients -30-  The Department of Environmental Protection values your feedback as a customer. DEP Secretary Michael W. Sole is committed to continuously assessing and improving the level and quality of services provided to you. Please take a few minutes to comment on the quality of service you received. Simply click on this link to the DEP Customer Survey. Thank you in advance for completing the survey.
 
UNITED STATES ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCYWASHINGTON, D.C. 20460
JAN 1 ~ 2009~ 2009
 Mr. Michael Sole, Secretary
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, Mail Stop 49
 
 
Michael Sole, Secretary
Florida Department of Environmental Protection
3900 Commonwealth Boulevard, Mail Stop 49
Tallahassee, F, 32399-300
 
This letter constitutes a determination under Clean Water Act (CWA) section
303(c)(4)(8) that new or revised water quality standards for nutrients are necessary to
meet the requirements of the CWA for the State of Florida. I am gratified to have learned
that your Department supports EPA's detennination that numeric nutrient water quality
criteria are necessary to meet the requirements of the CW A for the State of Florida.
In considering whether new or revised standards are necessary, EPA recognizes
that Florida has invested over $20 million in collecting and analyzing data on the
relationship between nutrient levels and biological impacts for purposes of developing
numeric nutrient criteria and that Florida has implemented some of the most progressive
nutrient management strategies in the Nation. Moreover, for over a decade, the State has
developed and demonstrated an impressive track record of commitment, innovation, and
stakeholder outreach and collaboration in its efforts to manage nutrient-related pollution.
Florida achieved this record not only as a result of its longstanding commitment to
environmental protection but also because it recognized the widespread and very
substantial nutrient pollution challenges it faces.
Despite Florida's widely recognized efforts, substantial water quality degradation
from nutrient over-enrichment remains a significant challenge in the State and one that is
likely to worsen with continued population growth and environmental and land-use
changes. EPA has determined that nwneric nutrient water quality criteria are necessary
for the State of Florida to meet the CWA requirement to have criteria that protect
applicable designated uses. Additionally, numeric nutrient criteria will create clear water
quality goals and easily measurable quantitative baselines to support stronger
collaboration and more effective partnerships with both point and nonpoint source
dischargers of nutrient pollution.
@ Printed on Recycled Paper
Printed on Recycled Paper
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Today’s determination affirms the wisdom of the substantial investments that
Florida has made to date in nutrient data collection, analysis, and stakeholder
involvement, and is fully consistent with the State’s commitment to a stronger nutrient
control program through a greater emphasis on the development of numeric nutrient
criteria. Today’s determination will support Florida in building upon its already strong
record of water quality protection, result in criteria protective of applicable designated
uses, and further expand and strengthen the numerous partnerships and collaborative
projects Florida has led and supported to date.
Statutory and Regulatory Background
Section 303(c) of the CWA requires States and authorized Tribes (hereafter,
collectively referred to as “States”) to adopt water quality standards for waters of the
United States within their applicable jurisdictions. Section 303(c)(2)(A) and EPA’s
implementing regulations at 40 CFR part 131 require, among other provisions, that State
water quality standards include the designated use or uses to be made of the waters and
the criteria necessary to protect those uses. EPA’s regulations at 40 CFR § 131.11(a)(1)
provide that States shall “adopt those water quality criteria that protect the designated
use” and that such criteria “must be based on sound scientific rationale and must contain
sufficient parameters or constituents to protect the designated use.”
States are also required to review their water quality standards at least once every
three years and, if appropriate, revise or adopt new standards (CWA section 303(c)(1)).
States are required to submit these new or revised water quality standards to EPA for
review and approval or disapproval (CWA section 303(c)(2)(A)). Finally, CWA section
303(c)(4)(B) authorizes the Administrator to determine, even in the absence of a State
submission, that a new or revised standard is needed to meet the CWA’s requirements.
When deciding whether a CWA section 303(c)(4)(B) determination is warranted for a
particular state, EPA considers each situation based on its particular facts and
circumstances. The CWA does not specify particular information or factors that EPA
must consider when deciding to exercise its discretion under section 303(c)(4)(B), and
EPA thus considers each individual case on its merits. The authority to make a
determination under CWA section 303(c)(4)(B) is discretionary and resides exclusively
with the Administrator, unless delegated by the Administrator. For the purposes of
today’s determination, the Administrator has delegated this authority to me, Benjamin H.
Grumbles, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Water.
Florida’s Current Nutrient Program
Florida has taken a number of steps to control nutrient pollution within the State.
In addition to adopting a narrative nutrient criterion and implementing that criterion
through NPDES permits, water body assessments, and TMDLs, Florida has established
other programs and laws to control nutrient pollution in the State. Despite the State’s
substantial efforts, however, EPA concludes that, based on the available data,
information, and trends, Florida’s narrative nutrient criterion alone is not sufficient to
3
protect applicable designated uses, and that numeric nutrient criteria are necessary to
meet the requirements of the CWA.
With respect to addressing nutrient pollution, Florida:
(1) has adopted a nutrient-specific narrative criterion in its water quality
standards, in addition to detailed nutrient-specific assessment procedures in its
Impaired Waters Rule (IWR),
(2) encourages individual watershed management plans through the State’s Basin
Management Action Plans (BMAPs), and
(3) has enacted other State laws and programs regarding point and nonpoint
source control such as the Grizzle-Figg Act of 1990.
Florida’s Narrative Water Quality Criterion for Nutrients and the IWR
Florida’s narrative water quality criterion for nutrients provides, in relevant part,
that “in no case shall nutrient concentrations of a body of water be altered so as to cause
an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora or fauna.”1 Florida’s implementation
of the criterion is based on site-specific detailed biological assessments and analyses
together with site-by-site outreach and stakeholder engagement in the context of specific
CWA-related actions, specifically National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
(NPDES) permits, total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), and assessment and listing
decisions.
When deriving NPDES permit limits, Florida initially conducts a site-specific
analysis to determine whether a proposed discharge has the reasonable potential to cause
or contribute to an exceedance of the narrative water quality criterion in the receiving
water or any other affected water. This analysis first involves examining the proposed
discharge to determine, in the case of nutrients, whether the discharge contains
phosphorus or nitrogen and second, determining the ambient water quality of the
receiving water and any other affected waters with regard to nutrient levels and biological
impacts. In Florida’s case, the State then determines what levels of nutrients would
“cause an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora or fauna” and translates those
levels into numeric “targets” for the receiving water and any other affected waters. If
Florida finds that there is reasonable potential, the State calculates permit limits stringent
enough to ensure that such a discharge will not cause or contribute to an exceedance of
the nutrient target levels (and therefore cause an “imbalance in natural populations of
aquatic flora and fauna”) for the water body and any other affected water bodies.
Accurately determining, on a water-by-water basis for thousands of waters, the
levels of nutrients that would “cause an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora
or fauna” is a difficult, lengthy, and data-intensive undertaking. This work involves
performing detailed site-specific analyses of the receiving water and any other affected
waters. If the State has not already completed this analysis for a particular water, it can be
very difficult to accurately determine, in the context and timeframe of the NPDES
 
1 Florida’s implementation
of the criterion is based on site-specific detailed biological assessments and analyses
together with site-by-site outreach and stakeholder engagement in the context of specific
CWA-related actions, specifically National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
(NPDES) permits, total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), and assessment and listing
decisions.
When deriving NPDES permit limits, Florida initially conducts a site-specific
analysis to determine whether a proposed discharge has the reasonable potential to cause
or contribute to an exceedance of the narrative water quality criterion in the receiving
water or any other affected water. This analysis first involves examining the proposed
discharge to determine, in the case of nutrients, whether the discharge contains
phosphorus or nitrogen and second, determining the ambient water quality of the
receiving water and any other affected waters with regard to nutrient levels and biological
impacts. In Florida’s case, the State then determines what levels of nutrients would
“cause an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora or fauna” and translates those
levels into numeric “targets” for the receiving water and any other affected waters. If
Florida finds that there is reasonable potential, the State calculates permit limits stringent
enough to ensure that such a discharge will not cause or contribute to an exceedance of
the nutrient target levels (and therefore cause an “imbalance in natural populations of
aquatic flora and fauna”) for the water body and any other affected water bodies.
Accurately determining, on a water-by-water basis for thousands of waters, the
levels of nutrients that would “cause an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora
or fauna” is a difficult, lengthy, and data-intensive undertaking. This work involves
performing detailed site-specific analyses of the receiving water and any other affected
waters. If the State has not already completed this analysis for a particular water, it can be
very difficult to accurately determine, in the context and timeframe of the NPDES
1 See Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C. rule 62-302-530(47)(b)).
See Florida Administrative Code (F.A.C. rule 62-302-530(47)(b)).
4
permitting process, the levels of nutrients that would “cause an imbalance in natural
populations of aquatic flora or fauna” and process NPDES permits in a timely manner.
For example, in some cases, adequate “cause and effect” data may take several years to
collect and therefore may not be available for a particular water at the time of permitting.
Numeric nutrient criteria in Florida would enhance the effectiveness of NPDES
permits in protecting designated uses and enable Florida permit writers to derive effluent
limitations without the resource intensive and burdensome process of conducting sitespecific
analyses to determine the appropriate numeric target value. Therefore, numeric
nutrient criteria would ensure that criteria are in place that will protect the designated
uses of Florida’s waters as required by the CWA and EPA’s implementing regulations.
Having numeric nutrient criteria in place would have a similar effect in
development of TMDLs. When developing TMDLs, Florida translates, as it does when
determining reasonable potential and deriving limits in the permitting context, the
narrative nutrient criterion into a numeric target that the State determines is necessary to
meet the narrative criterion and protect applicable designated uses. This process also
involves a site-specific analysis to determine the nutrient levels that would “cause an
imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora or fauna” in a particular water. Each
time a site-specific analysis is conducted to determine what the narrative criterion means
for a particular water body in developing a TMDL, the State takes site-specific
considerations into account and devises a method that works for the data and information
available. EPA maintains that numeric criteria for nutrients would enable the State to, in
a more timely manner, establish TMDLs that identify nutrient reductions necessary to
protect the designated uses. These resource intensive efforts to interpret the State’s
narrative criterion contribute to delays in implementing the criterion and therefore affect
the State’s ability to provide the needed protections for applicable designated uses.
In adopting the IWR, Florida took important steps toward improving
implementation of its narrative nutrient criterion by establishing and publishing an
assessment methodology to identify waters impaired for nutrients. This methodology
includes numeric nutrient impairment “thresholds,” above which waters are automatically
deemed impaired. For all other waters, the IWR specifies a process for conducting sitespecific
assessments to enable Florida to determine on a site-specific basis whether there
is an imbalance in flora or fauna, before a formal impairment or listing decision can be
made for these waters. This site-specific process necessarily results in additional delays
in identifying all waters impaired by nutrients; such a delay would not exist with numeric
criteria.
The thresholds of impairment used in the IWR are expressed as an increasing
annual trend in trophic state index (TSI) for lakes and chlorophyll-a mean values for
streams, estuaries, and open coastal waters. While these impairment thresholds and the
site-specific assessment processes are useful for identifying impaired waters, significant
delays in identifying all nutrient-impaired waters unavoidably result from the need to
implement the narrative criterion on a site-specific basis for many waters. Numeric
nutrient criteria are necessary to facilitate and expedite the identification of all nutrient
5
impaired waters in Florida; thereby providing necessary protection for the State’s
designated uses, as required by the CWA.
Implementation of the State’s Basin Management Action Plans (BMAPs) and Other
Florida Laws and Programs for Nutrient Control
As mentioned above, Florida has other innovative and important State programs
designed to control nutrient pollution, such as those adopted to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas. Numeric nutrient criteria will provide more precise, predetermined
targets that will facilitate more effective implementation of these programs
and provide greater certainty as to the level of water quality necessary to protect the
State’s designated uses.
One of the State’s innovative programs is the development of Basin Management
Action Plans (BMAPs) through which Florida assembles groups of stakeholders to
develop plans in order to implement State-adopted and EPA-approved TMDLs. These
BMAPs outline strategies to implement TMDLs once they are established and include an
implementation schedule, a method for evaluating the effectiveness of the BMAP, and
funding strategies, as well as ways to address any future increases in pollutant loadings.
NPDES permits may also be revised as necessary in order to implement BMAPs, and
permitted dischargers (including storm water and other nonagricultural dischargers)
implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) “to the maximum extent practicable” to
reduce pollution. Nonpoint source dischargers are also covered by BMAPs, and may
demonstrate compliance with the Plan by implementing BMPs or conducting water
quality monitoring.2 An essential prerequisite for successful implementation of this
critical watershed approach is that the State first must undertake the process of
determining impairments and then developing a TMDL. Timely development of TMDLs,
established at levels necessary to protect designated uses, will be facilitated by having
numeric nutrient criteria in place so that the State can more effectively and expeditiously
implement the State’s BMAP program.
In addition to BMAPs, Florida has implemented additional innovative approaches
to address nutrient pollution. A good example is the 1990 Grizzle-Figg Act, (see Florida
Statutes 403.0863), which requires limits of 5/5/3/1 mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP4) for all
domestic wastewater treatment facilities in the Tampa Bay area. In 1999, the Florida
State Legislature established Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) limits at 5/5/3/1
mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP) for wastewater facilities in the Florida Keys (see Laws of Florida
Chapter 99-3955). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
 
 
State Legislature established Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) limits at 5/5/3/1
mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP) for wastewater facilities in the Florida Keys (see Laws of Florida
Chapter 99-3955). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
 
 
 
2 An essential prerequisite for successful implementation of this
critical watershed approach is that the State first must undertake the process of
determining impairments and then developing a TMDL. Timely development of TMDLs,
established at levels necessary to protect designated uses, will be facilitated by having
numeric nutrient criteria in place so that the State can more effectively and expeditiously
implement the State’s BMAP program.
In addition to BMAPs, Florida has implemented additional innovative approaches
to address nutrient pollution. A good example is the 1990 Grizzle-Figg Act, (see Florida
Statutes 403.0863), which requires limits of 5/5/3/1 mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP4) for all
domestic wastewater treatment facilities in the Tampa Bay area. In 1999, the Florida
State Legislature established Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) limits at 5/5/3/1
mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP) for wastewater facilities in the Florida Keys (see Laws of Florida
Chapter 99-3955). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
 
 
State Legislature established Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) limits at 5/5/3/1
mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP) for wastewater facilities in the Florida Keys (see Laws of Florida
Chapter 99-3955). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
 
 
 
1990 Grizzle-Figg Act, (see Florida
Statutes 403.0863), which requires limits of 5/5/3/1 mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP4) for all
domestic wastewater treatment facilities in the Tampa Bay area. In 1999, the Florida
State Legislature established Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) limits at 5/5/3/1
mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP) for wastewater facilities in the Florida Keys (see Laws of Florida
Chapter 99-3955). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
 
 
State Legislature established Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) limits at 5/5/3/1
mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP) for wastewater facilities in the Florida Keys (see Laws of Florida
Chapter 99-3955). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
 
 
 
 
3), which requires limits of 5/5/3/1 mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP4) for all
domestic wastewater treatment facilities in the Tampa Bay area. In 1999, the Florida
State Legislature established Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) limits at 5/5/3/1
mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP) for wastewater facilities in the Florida Keys (see Laws of Florida
Chapter 99-3955). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
 
 
State Legislature established Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) limits at 5/5/3/1
mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP) for wastewater facilities in the Florida Keys (see Laws of Florida
Chapter 99-3955). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
 
 
 
In 1999, the Florida
State Legislature established Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) limits at 5/5/3/1
mg/l (BOD5/SS/TN/TP) for wastewater facilities in the Florida Keys (see Laws of Florida
Chapter 99-3955). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
 
 
5/SS/TN/TP) for wastewater facilities in the Florida Keys (see Laws of Florida
Chapter 99-3955). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
 
5). Florida has also adopted other rules to limit nutrient pollution in
geographically specific areas like the Indian River Lagoon System, the Everglades
Protection Area, and Wekiva Springs. In these cases, Florida has either specifically
limited nutrient pollution in the water body, from point and nonpoint source discharges,
limited discharges altogether, or, in the case of the Everglades Protection Area,
2 http://www.waterinstitute.ufl.edu/research/projects/downloads/p001-Ch7_SpringsNutrients.pdf
http://www.waterinstitute.ufl.edu/research/projects/downloads/p001-Ch7_SpringsNutrients.pdf
3http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0403/Sec086.H
TM
 
http://www.leg.state.fl.us/Statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=&URL=Ch0403/Sec086.H
TM
4 Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD5), Suspended Solids (SS), Total Nitrogen (TN), and Total Phosphorus (TP)
Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD5), Suspended Solids (SS), Total Nitrogen (TN), and Total Phosphorus (TP)
5 http://laws.flrules.org/files/Ch_1999-395.pdf
http://laws.flrules.org/files/Ch_1999-395.pdf
6
constructed stormwater treatment areas that can remove nutrients from runoff.
Implementation of these types of programs could be refined and enhanced if decision
makers are aware of the numeric nutrient criteria that are necessary to protect designated
uses.
Magnitude of Nutrient Over-Enrichment in Florida
Water quality degradation due to nutrient over-enrichment is a significant
environmental issue in Florida. Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection has
acknowledged and documented the magnitude of over-enrichment. According to
Florida’s 2008 Integrated Report,6 approximately 1,000 miles of rivers and streams,
350,000 acres of lakes, and 900 square miles of estuaries are impaired for nutrients in the
State. To put this into context, these values represent approximately 16% of the assessed
river and stream miles, 36% of the assessed lake acres, and 25% of the assessed square
miles of estuaries that Florida has listed as impaired under the IWR. The actual number
of miles and acres of waters impaired for nutrients is likely higher, as many waters
currently classified as “unassessed” may also be impaired.
This conclusion is based upon a range of available information, including the vast
amounts of monitoring data that exist on nutrient-related parameters in Florida waters.
With almost 800,000 nutrient-related data points in STORET (including nitrogen,
phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, and turbidity), Florida has substantially more data points than
any other State or Territory to clearly characterize the magnitude of its nutrient
challenges.
 
6 approximately 1,000 miles of rivers and streams,
350,000 acres of lakes, and 900 square miles of estuaries are impaired for nutrients in the
State. To put this into context, these values represent approximately 16% of the assessed
river and stream miles, 36% of the assessed lake acres, and 25% of the assessed square
miles of estuaries that Florida has listed as impaired under the IWR. The actual number
of miles and acres of waters impaired for nutrients is likely higher, as many waters
currently classified as “unassessed” may also be impaired.
This conclusion is based upon a range of available information, including the vast
amounts of monitoring data that exist on nutrient-related parameters in Florida waters.
With almost 800,000 nutrient-related data points in STORET (including nitrogen,
phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, and turbidity), Florida has substantially more data points than
any other State or Territory to clearly characterize the magnitude of its nutrient
challenges.
Monitoring Data and Impairments Indicate that Nutrient Problems Persist in Florida
An analysis of United States Geological Survey (USGS) monitoring data for
nutrients in certain locations in Florida shows that levels of nutrient pollution have not
significantly improved since 1980 despite strong efforts to control nutrient pollution.
Concentrations of Total Phosphorus (TP) and Total Nitrogen (TN) have remained
relatively constant at an average of 0.15mg/L and 1.4mg/L, respectively.7 Additionally,
Florida’s recurrent harmful algal blooms continue to pose threats to public drinking water
supplies and recreational sites. Harmful algal blooms that occur inland and near shore
are typically caused by excess nutrients.8
 
7 Additionally,
Florida’s recurrent harmful algal blooms continue to pose threats to public drinking water
supplies and recreational sites. Harmful algal blooms that occur inland and near shore
are typically caused by excess nutrients.8
8
Nutrient pollution in Florida has a predictable and widespread impact. The extent
of this impact has been well documented and tracked for many years. According to
Florida’s most recent EPA-approved CWA section 303(d) list from 2002,9 of the 823
waters listed as impaired in Florida, over 60% (over 550 waters) are impaired for
nutrients.
 
9 of the 823
waters listed as impaired in Florida, over 60% (over 550 waters) are impaired for
nutrients.
6 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/docs/2008_Integrated_Report.pdf
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/docs/2008_Integrated_Report.pdf
7 USEPA. 2000. STORET Legacy Data Center. http://www.epa.gov/storet/dbtop.html
USEPA. 2000. STORET Legacy Data Center. http://www.epa.gov/storet/dbtop.html
8 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl/docs/2006_Integrated_Report.pdf
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl/docs/2006_Integrated_Report.pdf
9 http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl/adopted_gp1.htm
http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/tmdl/adopted_gp1.htm
7
Florida’s Environment is Unique and Presents Special Challenges
Florida’s natural physical factors, including flat topography and numerous
wetlands, a warm and humid climate, nutrient-rich soils, hydrology, and erosion caused
by tropical storms and hurricanes make controlling nutrient pollution particularly
challenging because these conditions are especially conducive to nutrient overenrichment.
In addition, human caused impacts such as hydrological modifications (i.e.,
canals), intensive agricultural production, population growth and associated urban and
suburban development have had a broad and widespread effect. Effectively addressing
current nutrient impairments in the State represents a significant challenge and is
compounded by a projected population growth of almost 80 percent in Florida from 2000
to 2030.10 Further development and urbanization will likely result in increased nutrient
runoff and pressure to utilize remaining agricultural lands more intensively.11
 
10 Further development and urbanization will likely result in increased nutrient
runoff and pressure to utilize remaining agricultural lands more intensively.11
11
Within the continental United States, Florida possesses unique and nationally
valued aquatic ecosystems, including shallow coral reefs, freshwater and salt marshes,
swamps, and mangroves.12 These aquatic ecosystems are particularly sensitive to the
effects of excessive nutrients which threaten the State’s significant biological diversity.
The number of species in Florida (3,500 native vascular plants and 1,500 vertebrates) is
higher than in all but three other states. Further, Florida also has many endemic species
(410 invertebrates, 258 plants and vertebrates) that are not found anywhere else on
Earth.13 Florida has many water-filled caves and sinkholes that serve as hotspots of
biological diversity and provide homes to many species of aquatic life, some unique to
particular Florida locations.14 Additionally, Florida is the only state in the continental
United States to have extensive shallow coral reef formations near its coasts (i.e. within
five miles).15 A recent study initiated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization found that the single richest concentration of marine life in the Atlantic
Ocean lies some 10 miles off the tip of Southern Florida within the Florida Straits.16 This
biological diversity relies on sufficient quality habitat and other natural resources,
including clear, transparent waters low in phosphate and nitrogen nutrients.13, 14
 
 
 
 
 
12 These aquatic ecosystems are particularly sensitive to the
effects of excessive nutrients which threaten the State’s significant biological diversity.
The number of species in Florida (3,500 native vascular plants and 1,500 vertebrates) is
higher than in all but three other states. Further, Florida also has many endemic species
(410 invertebrates, 258 plants and vertebrates) that are not found anywhere else on
Earth.13 Florida has many water-filled caves and sinkholes that serve as hotspots of
biological diversity and provide homes to many species of aquatic life, some unique to
particular Florida locations.14 Additionally, Florida is the only state in the continental
United States to have extensive shallow coral reef formations near its coasts (i.e. within
five miles).15 A recent study initiated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization found that the single richest concentration of marine life in the Atlantic
Ocean lies some 10 miles off the tip of Southern Florida within the Florida Straits.16 This
biological diversity relies on sufficient quality habitat and other natural resources,
including clear, transparent waters low in phosphate and nitrogen nutrients.13, 14
 
 
 
 
13 Florida has many water-filled caves and sinkholes that serve as hotspots of
biological diversity and provide homes to many species of aquatic life, some unique to
particular Florida locations.14 Additionally, Florida is the only state in the continental
United States to have extensive shallow coral reef formations near its coasts (i.e. within
five miles).15 A recent study initiated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization found that the single richest concentration of marine life in the Atlantic
Ocean lies some 10 miles off the tip of Southern Florida within the Florida Straits.16 This
biological diversity relies on sufficient quality habitat and other natural resources,
including clear, transparent waters low in phosphate and nitrogen nutrients.13, 14
 
 
 
14 Additionally, Florida is the only state in the continental
United States to have extensive shallow coral reef formations near its coasts (i.e. within
five miles).15 A recent study initiated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization found that the single richest concentration of marine life in the Atlantic
Ocean lies some 10 miles off the tip of Southern Florida within the Florida Straits.16 This
biological diversity relies on sufficient quality habitat and other natural resources,
including clear, transparent waters low in phosphate and nitrogen nutrients.13, 14
 
 
15 A recent study initiated by the United Nations Food and Agriculture
Organization found that the single richest concentration of marine life in the Atlantic
Ocean lies some 10 miles off the tip of Southern Florida within the Florida Straits.16 This
biological diversity relies on sufficient quality habitat and other natural resources,
including clear, transparent waters low in phosphate and nitrogen nutrients.13, 14
 
16 This
biological diversity relies on sufficient quality habitat and other natural resources,
including clear, transparent waters low in phosphate and nitrogen nutrients.13, 14
13, 14
Especially in the case of coral reefs and flora and fauna in natural spring environments,
clear water with plenty of light and oxygen available is critical to the protection of the
species that inhabit these locations. Nutrient enriched water can have reduced
transparency and low dissolved oxygen levels that are not protective of the natural
biology in Florida. Effectively managing nutrient levels in Florida’s lakes, flowing
waters, estuaries and coastal waters through numeric nutrient criteria is important to
maintaining the ecosystems in these waters and important ecosystems that are near shore.
The combined impacts of urban and agricultural activities along with Florida’s
physical features and important and unique aquatic ecosystems make it clear that the
current use of the narrative nutrient criterion alone is insufficient to ensure protection of
applicable designated uses. Numeric nutrient criteria will strengthen the foundation for
identifying impaired waters, preparing TMDLs and developing NPDES permits, as well
as support the State’s ability to effectively partner to with point and nonpoint sources to
control nutrients, thus providing the necessary protection for the State’s designated uses.
Determination
Nutrient pollution in Florida remains a significant and growing challenge.
Recognizing this, Florida has invested tens of millions of dollars in the collection of data
to establish the cause and effect relationship between nutrients and biological conditions
in order to be well positioned to establish what the State, itself, believes are much needed
numeric nutrient water quality criteria. As discussed above, despite Florida’s
considerable data collection and analysis efforts and outreach with stakeholders to date,
the State is relying on its narrative nutrient criterion, the application of which is resource
intensive, time consuming, and less than effective in implementing programs to protect
water quality and prevent impairments of designated uses due to nutrient overenrichment.
The very substantial and widespread nature of nutrient challenges faced by
the State and the barriers to effective implementation associated with narrative nutrient
criteria in Florida, such as the need for numerous, highly technical site-specific analyses
prior to the development of water quality-based effluent limitations in NPDES permits
and TMDLs, strongly support the need in this case for numeric nutrient criteria to
effectively protect designated uses and prevent impairments. In many circumstances,
narrative criteria can be an effective tool for protecting designated uses, particularly when
the scope and nature of the environmental problem is easily and clearly defined and
derivation of appropriate control measures can be effectively and expeditiously
accomplished (e.g., toxic pollutants and bioassessments). However, achieving faster and
more effective progress in water quality protection with regard to nutrients is critical in
Florida due to the significant and far-reaching impacts of nutrient pollution on the unique
and highly valued aquatic ecosystems that exist in the State. In this case, numeric
nutrient criteria are needed to protect Florida’s designated uses.
While Florida has made headway on this issue by developing a methodology in
the IWR that allows the State to automatically list certain waters with higher levels of
nutrients, Florida still must conduct case-by-case assessments to determine if an
imbalance in flora or fauna exists for waters below the IWR impairment thresholds. The
existence of numeric nutrient criteria will facilitate Florida’s efforts to identify all
nutrient-impaired waters. Quantifiable nutrient criteria also will facilitate Florida’s
efforts to establish TMDLs and appropriate WQBELs in NPDES permits as necessary to
adequately protect applicable designated uses. It will also create a strong and clear
baseline against which to measure progress and upon which to support stronger and more
effective point and nonpoint partnerships.
For all of these reasons, EPA hereby determines under CWA section 303(c)(4)(B)
that new or revised water quality standards for nutrients in the form of numeric nutrient
criteria are necessary in the State of Florida to meet the requirements of the CWA (CWA
9
section 303(c)(2)(A) and 40 CFR § 131.11(a)(1)). Numeric nutrient criteria will enable
the State to implement nutrient controls more broadly, effectively, and expeditiously to
protect applicable designated uses and meet the challenge of the extent and severity of
nutrient pollution in Florida. EPA notes that it has not previously made a determination
on whether numeric nutrient criteria are necessary in Florida, and clarifies this point so as
to resolve any questions that may previously have arisen on this issue.
EPA’s Expectation Regarding a Remedy to this Situation
Section 303(c)(4) of the CWA requires that the Administrator promptly prepare
and publish proposed regulations setting forth a new or revised water quality standard
when the Administrator makes a determination. EPA will move forward to develop
federal proposed regulations setting forth numeric nutrient criteria for Florida and expects
that these criteria will be developed in a manner that ensures that there will be no
imbalance in natural populations of flora and fauna in Florida waters. EPA will work
collaboratively with Florida’s technical experts to generate data and conduct analyses.
EPA understands that Florida has an extensive stakeholder outreach and comment
process underway and has already committed to share with EPA the public comments
and stakeholder input received by Florida in this process, so that EPA may consider this
input as it develops the federal proposal. EPA intends that the criteria will be protective
of applicable designated uses, based on sound scientific rationale, responsive to the
specific needs of Florida’s waters, and sufficient to meet the needs of the State’s
complete suite of water quality management tools.
In terms of schedule, the State of Florida has made significant progress in
collecting data needed to adopt nutrient criteria for its lakes and flowing waters. Florida
expects to complete data collection, laboratory analysis of the data, and compilation of
the data by March 2009. EPA anticipates that six months will then be required to
complete detailed analyses of the data to identify the relationships between nutrient
causal variables, e.g. nitrogen and phosphorus, and key response variables, e.g.,
chlorophyll a, Secchi depth, periphyton, and dissolved oxygen (DO). This analysis will
be an important step in developing the numeric nutrient criteria. EPA expects that an
additional four months will be needed to organize, document and assemble the complex
technical analysis and administrative record to support and prepare the preamble and
federal proposal for publication.
For estuaries and coastal waters, Florida is working to compile and assess the
adequacy of the data available to develop nutrient criteria. EPA has reviewed the State’s
progress and assessed the remaining work associated with this analysis and estimates that
12-24 months will be necessary to develop these criteria values, reflecting the broader
technical uncertainties and additional evaluation that will be necessary to determine cause
and effect relationships between nutrients and biological response parameters in these
waters. Additionally, there is a possibility that additional data collection may be needed
should the analyses yield inconclusive results.
In conclusion, EPA expects to propose numeric nutrient criteria for lakes and
flowing waters within 12 months, and for estuaries and coastal waters, within 24 months.
EPA expects to work closely and collaboratively with the State of Florida to ensure that
these numeric nutrient criteria are protective of applicable designated uses, based on
sound scientific rationale, responsive to the specific needs of Florida's waters, responsive
to avai lable public and stakeholder input, and suffic ient to meet the needs of the State's
complete suite of water quality management tool s. As always, in the event that Florida
adopts and EPA approves new or revised water qual ity standards that sufficiently address
this determination before EPA promulgates federal water quality standards, EPA would
no longer be obligated to promulgate federal water quality standards.
be obligated to promulgate federal water quality standards.
Assistant Administrator
cc: Mr. Jimmy Palmer, Regional Administrator, EPA Region 4
Mr. James D. Giattina, Director, Water Management Division, EPA Region 4
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