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EPA's Numeric Nutrient Rule for Florida – Listing Process

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In 2001, as part of a plant subsequently approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the state of Florida began to develop numeric nutrient rules to replace the existing narrative nutrient criteria currently in Florida's code. The narrative rule simply says that nutrients cannot be discharged so as to cause an imbalance of natural flora or fauna in receiving waters. The numeric nutrient rule will assign specific criteria to achieve this target in lakes, streams and estuaries. Over the last 10 years, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has been working with a technical advisory committee (TAC) to scientifically determine numeric criteria to protect Florida's natural biology. As a result of the settlement of a lawsuit, EPA determined that Florida's process for drafting numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) needed to be expedited. EPA declared that it would issue draft NNC for lakes and streams for the state of Florida in January 2009, and draft criteria for estuaries by November 2011. The federal draft criteria are very stringent and introduce a number of new concepts, such as downstream protection values. When promulgated, the EPA NNC rules will affect all types of discharges to the state's surface waters, including direct wastewater and industrial treatment plants, wet weather reuse discharges, and agricultural and urban stormwater runoff. This paper will discuss the draft criteria, identify some of the concerns with the criteria, and consider the potential effects of the application of the proposed rules to the impaired waters listing via 303(d) in Florida.
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Keywords: 303(d) Listing; Criteria; Florida; Impaired Waters; Lakes; Nutrients; Streams

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2011-01-01

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