DEP questions proposed federal water standards

Some healthy streams and preserved streams in state parks and forests apparently won’t meet new federal criteria for nitrogen and phosphorus, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Jan. 15 proposed numeric nutrient criteria for springs, rivers and lakes in Florida. The specific criteria replace Florida’s narrative standard that EPA and DEP earlier agreed was insufficient to protect water bodies.

“There are elements of the proposed rule that need serious review because they appear disconnected with the true nature of Florida water bodies,” DEP spokeswoman Dee Ann Miller said Friday in an e-mail. “An initial analysis indicates that many healthy and preserved streams (often located in state parks, forests and wildlife refuges) do not attain the proposed values.”

The federal proposal faces opposition from some agriculture and business groups.

Last week, the Florida Water Quality Coalition, a group of utilities and other regulated interests, called on the EPA to provide its background science and data or extend the 60-day comment period. EPA said the science and data are available on its web site.

The EPA is conducting hearings on the proposal in Tallahassee on Feb. 16, Orlando on Feb. 17 and West Palm Beach on Feb. 18. For more information, go on the Web to .

(Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)