On Nov. 30, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) rules establishing numeric limits on nitrogen and phosphorus in statewide springs, lakes, streams, and some estuaries. EPA states that the new rule is more effective and efficient than Florida’s previous narrative approach and is nearly identical to EPA’s 2010 rule. Florida will also be using biological indicators as an additional approach to determining water quality.

Because the new rule does not cover all Florida waters, EPA on Dec. 18 announced proposed numeric nutrient limits in Florida estuaries, coastal waters, and South Florida streams not already covered. A second proposed rule would provide clarifications on provisions in EPA’s 2010 rule that establishes numeric nutrient limits on Florida’s inland waters. These provisions were remanded to EPA for further action by the U.S. District Court. However, EPA will withdraw federal rules for waters covered by Florida state laws that meet Clean Water Act requirements. The agency expects that FDEP will soon submit new rules, as Florida recently adopted nutrient rules for Panhandle estuaries.

EPA will host public information sessions Jan. 17 and 18 and Web-based public hearings Jan. 22 to 24. Public comment on EPA’s proposed rules is due by Feb. 19. Read more.