United States
Environmental Protection
Office of Water  EPA - 820-F-12-055
    Proposed Nutrient Standards for Florida's Coastal,
          Estuarine  & South  Florida Flowing Waters
EPA has proposed numeric water quality criteria
and downstream protection values to protect
aquatic life and human health in certain estuaries
and coastal waters within the State of Florida,
and in flowing waters in south Florida, from
nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. These
criteria, and the downstream protection values
for flowing waters into estuaries and coastal
marine waters, are intended to help reduce water
pollution that causes algal blooms.

Algal blooms can discolor water, deplete the
oxygen required for fish and shellfish survival,
smother vegetation, and produce toxins harmful
to humans, animals and ecosystems across the
State of Florida. They occur when excess
nitrogen and phosphorus, called "nutrient"
pollution, flows into waterways via wastewater
discharges, urban stormwater runoff and
fertilizer runoff.

EPA fully supports FDEP's continued efforts to
set protective standards which will eliminate the
need for EPA to take further action. However,
court orders resulting from settlement of a 2008
lawsuit required EPA to propose the federal
rules announced today. Because EPA prefers for
Florida to implement its own nutrient limits, we
have removed the water bodies that are covered
in the state's rules from EPA's proposals.

This proposed rule, along with criteria for
certain estuaries and coastal marine waters in
Florida that were recently adopted by Florida
and approved by EPA, seeks to improve water
quality of Florida's estuaries, coastal waters and
flowing waters in south Florida, and thereby
protect public health, aquatic life and the
recreational uses of Florida's waters, which are a
critical part of the State's economy.
                          Florida is known for its abundant and beautiful
                          natural resources, particularly its aquatic
                          resources, which are vital to Florida's economy.
                          According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife
                          Conservation Commission in 2011, the State's
                          aquatic resources enabled an annual
                          contribution of more than $5 billion in revenue
                          and more than 54,000 jobs in the saltwater sport
                          fishing industry as well as more than $ 1 billion
                          in revenue and more than 24,000 jobs in the
                          commercial saltwater fishing industry. However,
                          nutrient pollution has contributed to severe
                          degradation of aquatic resources in the State of

                          In 2008, the Florida Wildlife Federation filed a
                          lawsuit against EPA, following which EPA
                          made a determination in January 2009 under the
                          Clean Water Act that numeric nutrient criteria
                          are needed in Florida. A December 2009 consent
                          decree settling the lawsuit laid out milestones for
                          EPA to establish criteria in two stages.

                          The first stage was for inland water bodies
                          outside of the south Florida, which EPA
                          promulgated in December 2010. EPA defined
                          "south Florida" as those areas south of Lake
                          Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River
                          watershed west of Lake Okeechobee, and the St.
                          Lucie watershed east of Lake Okeechobee.

                          The second stage (the current proposal) is for
                          certain estuaries and coastal waters, and south
                          Florida flowing waters. Under the consent
                          decree, EPA's Administrator is required to sign a
                          rule with proposed criteria for these waters by
                          November 30, 2012 and to sign a final rule by
                          September 30, 2013. EPA is only required to
                          establish criteria in waters where the State of
                          Florida has not established their own criteria.

On June 13, 2012, Florida submitted water
quality criteria that include numeric nutrient
criteria for a set of estuaries and coastal marine
waters in Florida to the EPA for review pursuant
to section 303(c) of the Clean Water Act, and
EPA approved these criteria on November 30,

Specifically, these newly-approved criteria apply
to Clearwater Harbor/St. Joseph Sound, Tampa
Bay, Sarasota Bay, Charlotte Harbor/Estero Bay,
Clam Bay, Tidal Cocohatchee River/Ten
Thousand Islands, Florida Bay, Florida Keys,
and Biscayne  Bay. Under the consent decree,
EPA is no longer required to propose numeric
criteria for these waters.

About this  Proposed  Regulation
In accordance with the terms of the EPA's
January 14, 2009 determination and the consent
decree, the Agency is proposing numeric criteria
for certain estuaries and coastal waters within
the State of Florida, and flowing waters (e.g.
rivers, streams, and canals) in south Florida.

Criteria Derivation
EPA is proposing to use location-specific
approaches for the derivation of numeric
nutrient criteria to ensure that the diversity of
unique habitats found in each type of water body
are taken into account and addressed. This
location-specific approach allowed the Agency
to consider  individual physical, chemical, and
biological characteristics for a particular
waterbody as  a whole.

Criteria for Florida Estuarine Waters
EPA is proposing total nitrogen (TN), total
phosphorus (TP) and chlorophyll-a criteria for
19 estuaries. The criteria are based on the
biological response to TN and TP levels in
Florida's estuaries, determined using substantial
site-specific field data, and predictive models
that simulate the conditions within the estuary
and the associated watershed.

Criteria for Florida Coastal Waters
EPA is proposing chlorophyll-a criteria for three
coastal systems in Florida. For these areas, EPA
evaluated chlorophyll-a levels in Florida's
coastal waters using satellite remote-sensing
images and derived criteria based on
chlorophyll-a concentrations in coastal waters
that are unimpaired for nutrients.

Criteria for Flowing Waters in the South Florida
EPA is proposing approaches to derive TN and
TP criteria that apply at the "pour points" of the
flowing waters in south Florida, where the fresh
flowing water enters the downstream marine
water.  EPA is not proposing separate in-stream
criteria, but requests comment on the
development of in-stream criteria based on
stressor-response relationships.

Downstream Protection Values
EPA regulations implementing Clean Water Act
section 303(c) require that water quality
standards "provide for the attainment and
maintenance of the water quality standards of
downstream waters." Therefore, the EPA is
proposing approaches to derive TN and TP
criteria expressed as downstream protection
values (DPVs) at the pour points of all flowing
waters  in Florida.

Florida's EPA-approved water quality criteria
also include provisions addressing downstream
protection that establish quantitative approaches
to ensure the attainment and maintenance of
downstream waters consistent with EPA's
regulations. However, the provisions themselves
do not consist of numeric values  and the consent
decree  requires EPA to sign rules proposing
numeric DPVs for Florida by November 30,

Therefore, EPA is proposing numeric DPVs to
comply with the consent decree.  However,  EPA
has amended its January 2009 determination and
will ask the court to modify the consent decree
to not require EPA to promulgate numeric DPVs
for Florida. If the court agrees, EPA will not
finalize the numeric DPVs proposed in this rule.

Site-Specific Alternative Criteria
Under this proposal, stakeholders may seek
federal site-specific alternative criteria (SSAC)
by submitting scientifically defensible
recalculations of the criteria for estuaries, coastal
waters, and flowing waters in the South Florida

Region that meet the requirements of Clean
Water Act section 303(c). This is an extension of
the approach EPA finalized in its December
2010 rule for lakes and flowing waters outside
of south Florida.

Economic Analysis
Once  Florida implements these standards, point
source dischargers of nitrogen and phosphorus
pollution may require new or revised National
Pollutant Discharge Elimination System
(NPDES) permits.

Additionally, implementation may lead to
requirements for treatment controls on other
sources of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution
(e.g., agriculture, urban runoff, and septic
systems) primarily through the development of
additional Total Maximum Daily Loads
(TMDLs) and Basin Management Action Plans
(BMAPs) for restoring impaired waters.

To provide information on the potential costs
associated with these State actions, EPA
conducted an economic analysis associated with
this rule. EPA estimates that the total costs
associated with full implementation of this rule
will range from approximately $239.0 million to
$632.4 million per year over 20 years since
capital costs will be financed and thereby spread
out overtime.

For More Information
Contact Erica Fleisig at (202) 566-1057,
fleisig.erica(g),epa.gov. or visit EPA's website at:
florida coastal.cfm.