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EPA Numeric Nutrient Criteria

On January 26, 2010, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed water quality standards in Florida that would set a series of numeric limits on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen allowed in Florida’s lakes, rivers, streams, springs and canals.

The proposed standards comply with the terms of the August 2009 consent decree between the EPA and the Florida Wildlife Federation. The District reviewed the proposed water quality standards and submitted formal comments to the EPA, April 22, 2010.

On August 3, 2010, the EPA issued a notice of supplemental data availability and request for comment regarding potential changes to the water quality standards that were drafted on January 26, 2010. The District reviewed these proposed changes and submitted formal comments to the EPA, August 31, 2010.

On December 6, 2010, the EPA published its final criteria, Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida’s Lakes and Flowing Waters . The final rule sets numeric limits for nitrogen and phosphorous in lakes and streams, and for nitrate plus nitrite in springs. The EPA chose to delay implementation of the rule for 15 months to provide time for the State of Florida and other stakeholders to review the final standards and develop strategies for their implementation.

The EPA will also be publishing water quality standards for Florida’s estuarine and coastal waters. Draft standards for estuarine and coastal waters will be published by March 15, 2012 and finalized by November 15, 2012.

More information, including the final rule, can be found on the EPA web site.