When EPA began the process of setting numeric limits for nutrients in Florida’s waters, there was plenty of opposition throughout the state, and for a variety of reasons: some said jobs would be lost; others thought the cost of meeting the new limits was far to high. Some argued that EPA’s basis for setting the limits was not scientifically sound, and others objected to EPA setting rules for a specific state and for a specific pollutant, which it had never done before. There were requests for a delay in setting the criteria so the economic impacts could be more fully explored. Nevertheless, EPA set the final numeric nutrient criteria in November.
It’s not over, though. The opposition to the new limits is strong and it’s organized. Some lawsuits have already been filed and more are expected. A recent letter to Florida’s two senators, Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio, takes a new tack at defeating the measure. Essentially, it asks them to introduce an amendment in the US Senate that would “defund” the numeric nutrient criteria.
Among the effects predicted in the letter if the criteria remain in place: a $700-a-year water utility bill increase per household and the loss of more than 14,000 agricultural jobs. The letter was signed by more than 50 groups—businesses, utilities, trade associations, and a few individual cities and counties. (You can see the full text of the letter and the list of signers here).
In an upcoming issue of Stormwater magazine, we’ll run an article by one of our advisory board members in Florida—also opposed to the numeric nutrient criteria—analyzing the issue in much greater detail, including the potential effect on TMDLs throughout the state and the question of enforcement.
You can see our previous coverage of the numeric limits during the public comment phase and after they were signed, and read EPA’s summary.