EPA regional chief visits Tallahassee, may discuss water quality controversy

The regional administrator from the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency today visits Tallahassee to meet with Florida officials and attend an event at Florida A&M; University.

Gwen Keyes Fleming will have an introductory meeting with Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard, according to DEP. There’s no word on what they may talk about but Vinyard hinted last week that he’d like to discuss federal water quality standards.

Those proposed limits on nitrogen and phosphorus face objections from agriculture and industry groups and wastewater and storm water utilities. Vinyard, who has not been available for interviews, told the Senate Budget Subcommittee on General Government Appropriations last week that he’d like to tout Florida’s “Total Maximum Daily Load” program that already was in place before the federal water standards were proposed.

“I will tell you that I am very impressed with the science that has gone into Florida’s TMDL, our solution to the nutrients,” Vinyard said. “I wish we had a better opportunity to show the country, to show EPA, that TMDL will be a successful way to clean up our waterways.”

At 3:30 p.m., Fleming will be at FAMU to announce an agreement with the university to support campus “greening” and sustainability.

As part of the agreement, EPA will commit to enhance the university’s environmental policy and science curricula and offer opportunities for students interested in environmental careers. EPA and DEP also will designate FAMU as a Center of Excellence for Watershed Management—the first of such centers in Florida.

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