Florida delegation, DEP’s Sole oppose EPA standards

Federal proposed water quality standards for Florida received more protests this week from Florida officials.

Springs across the state have become choked with weeds and algae in recent years while toxic algal blooms have flourished in the St. Johns River and along the southwest Florida Gulf coast.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency on Jan. 15 proposed more specific limits for nitrogen and phosphorus in lakes and rivers. EPA and the state Department of Environmental Protection agreed last year that the new standard were needed to protect Florida’s water quality.

But DEP Secretary Michael Sole said this week that the EPA, in developing the proposed standards, had used a computer model that effectively doesn’t work for Florida.

He told the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Committee that 68 percent of Florida’s “pristine” waters would fail to meet the proposed federal rule. He also said EPA’s estimated cost of $1.5 billion for Florida to meet the proposed standards appears too low.

“We need to focus on the work that is going to actually gain an environmental benefit,” he said. “The concern we have is these (federal standards) as proposed have no significant environmental lift.”

Also this week, 20 members of Florida’s congressional delegation followed industry groups last week in requesting that the EPA extend the 60-day comment period on the rule.

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