United States
Office of Water EPA - 820-F-14-006
xv EPA Environmental Protection
Agency	4305T	September 2014
Numeric Nutrient Criteria for the State of Florida:
Withdrawing the Federal Actions
Summary
EPA is withdrawing federal water quality
standards (WQS) applicable to waters of the
state of Florida now that Florida has adoptedó
and EPA has approvedó relevant numeric
nutrient criteria (NNC). Water quality standards
including NNC help to protect and restore the
quality of the Nation's surface waters, consistent
with the requirements of the Clean Water Act
(CWA). EPA has also ceased action on three
proposed rules applicable to waters of the state
of Florida.
Clean water is vital for Florida. Excess nitrogen
and phosphorus, or "nutrient pollution," is the
primary cause of water quality impairment
throughout the state and causes algae bloomsó
the thick, green mats that can be toxic, deplete
oxygen in the water, and completely reduce
water clarity. Nutrient pollution threatens human
health and the environment, hurts businesses,
costs jobs, reduces property values and
otherwise impacts the quality of life for all
Floridians.
Consent Decree and Determination
In 2009, EPA determined under CWA section
303(c)(4)(B) that new or revised WQS in the
form of numeric nutrient criteria were necessary
to meet the requirements of the CWA in the state
of Florida.
Later in 2009, EPA entered into a Consent
Decree with Florida Wildlife Federation, Sierra
Club, Conservancy of Southwest Florida,
Environmental Confederation of Southwest
Florida, and St. Johns Riverkeeper which
established a schedule for EPA to propose and
promulgate NNC for Florida's springs, lakes,
flowing waters, estuaries, and coastal waters.
The Consent Decree provided that if Florida
submitted and EPA approved NNC for the
relevant water bodies before the dates outlined
in the schedule, EPA would no longer be
obligated to propose or promulgate criteria, as
appropriate, for those water bodies.
Rulemaking by the State of Florida
In 2012, the Florida Department of
Environmental Protection (FDEP) submitted
new and revised WQS for review by EPA
pursuant to section 303(c) of the CWA. Later
that year, EPA approved the provisions of these
rules submitted for review that constitute new or
revised WQS. These state WQS included NNC
that apply to freshwater lakes, springs, some
inland flowing waters, and some estuaries, as
well as a quantitative approach addressing
protection of downstream waters.
In 2013, FDEP adopted into rule the document
entitled "Implementation of Florida's Numeric
Nutrient Standards." This document further
explains how Florida will implement its criteria
for flowing waters and clarifies, among other
things, how FDEP will determine which flowing
waters in the state will not be subject to the
state's NNC. Later that year, EPA approved the
portions of this document that constitute new or
revised WQS.
Also in 2013 FDEP submitted numeric nutrient
criteria for all remaining estuaries and coastal
waters in the state for review by EPA pursuant
to section 303(c) of the CWA. EPA also
approved the provisions of these submittals that
constitute new or revised WQS.
These 2013 approvalsócoupled with EPA's
2012 approval of FDEP'sNNC for springs,
lakes and flowing watersóresult in Florida
having established EPA-approved NNC for all
fresh water lakes, springs, estuaries and coastal
waters, and the majority of flowing waters in the
state.

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Withdrawing or Ceasing Federal Rulemaking
Inland Waters Rule (Phase I)
In 2010, EPA published a rule finalizing NNC
for Florida's lakes, springs, and flowing waters
outside of the South Florida Nutrient Watershed
Region ("inland waters rule", 40 CFR 131.43).
EPA established these WQS to protect Florida's
Class I and III freshwaters from nitrogen and
phosphorus pollution.
Florida now has state-adopted, EPA-approved
criteria for lakes and springs that are applicable
for CWA purposes. On January 7, 2014, the
court agreed that EPA is no longer obligated to
promulgate NNC for any of Florida's waters.
Since there is no need for overlapping federal
criteria for such waters, EPA is withdrawing
these federal criteria.
Also, EPA is not finalizing its December 14,
2012 proposal to temporarily stay the effective
date of the Inland Waters Rule, since this
proposal to withdraw makes a temporary stay
unnecessary.
Remanded Portions of the Inland Waters Rule
Not long after the publication of the final rule
for inland waters, EPA received several legal
challenges to its rule. The court invalidated
portions of the final Inland Waters rule, and
required EPA to re-propose those portions of the
rule. EPA re-proposed those elements in 2012
(77 FR 74985).
Florida now has state-adopted, EPA-approved
criteria for flowing waters that are applicable for
CWA purposes. On January 7, 2014, the court
agreed that EPA is no longer obligated to
promulgate NNC for any of Florida's waters. As
a result, EPA is not finalizing this federal
proposed rule.
Coastal Waters Rule (Phase II)
In 2012, EPA also proposed criteria for Florida's
estuaries and coastal waters not otherwise
covered by EPA-approved state NNC, and
inland flowing waters in the South Florida
Nutrient Watershed Region (77 FR 74923).
Florida now has state-adopted, EPA-approved
criteria for estuaries and coastal waters that are
applicable for CWA purposes. On January 7,
2014, the court agreed that EPA is no longer
obligated to promulgate NNC for any of
Florida's waters. As a result, EPA is not
finalizing this federal proposed rule.
For More Information
Visit EPA's website at
http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/florida-
index.cfm. You may also contact Erica Fleisig at
(202) 566-1057 or fieisig.erica@epa.gov.

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