&ERA
United States
Environmental Protection °fficeofWater era-820-F-11-016
Agency
4305T	December 2011
Proposed Extension of Effective Date for Water Quality
Standards for Florida's Lakes and Flowing Waters
Summary
The EPA is proposing to extend the March 6,
2012 effective date of the "Water Quality
Standards for the State of Florida's Lakes and
Flowing Waters; Final Rule" (inland waters
rule) by 90 days to June 4, 2012. An extension
will allow EPA to work with Florida Department
of Environmental Protection (FDEP) as it takes
the steps necessary to finalize new State
standards and submit them to EPA for review.
The EPA's final inland waters rule also included
a separate effective date for the site-specific
alternative criteria provision, which took effect
on February 4, 2011. This proposal does not
affect or change the February 4, 2011 date.
Background
Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution (also known
as "nutrient pollution") is one of the largest
causes of the water quality problems in Florida.
Limiting nutrient pollution across the State will
help protect the health of Floridians and also
preserve Florida's greatest asset—clean water—
and the prosperity and jobs that go with it.
Florida's tourism industry, the State's number
one industry, employs nearly one million
Floridians and pumps billions into the State's
economy each year, including generating
thousands of jobs and well over $3 billion in
taxes.
Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution causes
harmful algae blooms which produce toxins
harmful to both humans and animals and deplete
oxygen needed for fish and shellfish survival,
smother vegetation and discolor water. It can
also result in the formation of byproducts in
drinking water from disinfection chemicals,
some of which have been linked with serious
human illnesses. Nutrient pollution originates
from stormwater runoff, municipal wastewater
treatment, fertilization of crops and livestock
manure. Nitrogen also forms from the burning of
fossil fuels, like gasoline.
Consent Decree and EPA's Inland Waters
Rulemaking
The Florida Wildlife Federation filed a 2008
lawsuit against the EPA, following which the
EPA in January 2009 made a determination
under the Clean Water Act (CWA) that numeric
nutrient standards are needed in Florida. A
consent decree settling the lawsuit, entered into
in August 2009, requires the EPA to adopt
specific or "numeric" nutrient pollution
standards for lakes and flowing waters by
November 2010.
On December 6, 2010, the final inland waters
rule was published in the Federal Register (75
FR 75762), and codified at 40 CFR 131.43. The
final rule established numeric nutrient criteria,
i.e., numeric limits on the amount of nutrient
pollution allowed in Florida's waters while still
protecting applicable designated uses. By this
action the EPA sought to improve water quality,
protect public health and aquatic life and the
long-term recreational uses of Florida's waters,
which are a critical part of the State's economy.
This promulgation was in accordance with the
terms of the EPA's January 14, 2009
determination, an August 2009 Consent Decree,
and June 7, 2010 and October 27, 2010 revisions
to that Consent Decree.
State of Florida's Rulemaking
On October 24, 2011, FDEP sent to EPA a draft
rule on numeric nutrient criteria for inland and
estuarine waters. On November 2, 2011, EPA
sent a letter to Hershel Vinyard, Secretary of the
FDEP outlining the Agency's preliminary
evaluation of FDEP's draft rule, which indicates
that the State's draft rule is consistent with the
requirements of the Clean Water Act. EPA
believes that the proposed regulatory numeric
criteria developed by FDEP represent very

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significant progress in protecting the State's
unique aquatic resources.
While EPA's final decision to approve or
disapprove any nutrient criteria submitted by
FDEP will follow our formal review of the rule
and record under section 303(c) of the CWA,
our review of the October 24, 2011 draft rules
leads us to the preliminary conclusion that EPA
would be able to approve the draft rules under
the CWA. The Agency's analysis of the October
24, 2011 draft rules and their consistency with
the CWA could change should modifications be
made before and/or during the State legislative
process, or if our review of the technical
information and public comments identifies
reasons the final rules do not meet the
requirements of the CWA.
On November 10, 2011, FDEP proposed
numeric nutrient criteria for inland waters as
well as a number of estuarine waters for the
State, which were subsequently published in the
Florida Administrative Weekly (Volume 37,
number 45, pages 3753 - 3775). The proposed
rules were considered by the State's
Environmental Review Commission (ERC) on
December 8, 2011 and an amended version was
unanimously approved by the ERC.
On December 9, FDEP submitted the ERC-
approved rules and amendments to the Florida
Legislature for ratification during the upcoming
legislative session. (The last day of the 2012
regular legislative session is March 9, 2012.)
Since the ERC approved amendments to the
proposed rules, FDEP must also publish a notice
of change, which is expected to be included in
the December 23, 2011 edition of the Florida
Administrative Weekly.
Should the proposed rules be ratified, FDEP will
then submit the new or revised water quality
standards to EPA for review pursuant to CWA
section 303(c).
About this Rulemaking
The EPA's final inland waters rule is scheduled
to take effect on March 6, 2012, except for the
site-specific alternative criteria (SSAC)
provision, which took effect on February 4,
2011.
The scope of this proposed rule is limited: it
only seeks to extend the effective date of the
inland waters rule. Hence, this proposed rule is
not a new regulation. The proposed rule does
not involve technical standards, or impose any
economic impact burden on any small entity.
Citizens concerned with water quality in Florida
may be interested in this rulemaking. Entities
discharging nitrogen or phosphorus to lakes and
flowing waters of Florida could be indirectly
affected by this rulemaking because water
quality standards (WQS) are used in determining
National Pollutant Discharge Elimination
System (NPDES) permit limits.
Categories and entities that may ultimately be
affected include (1) Industry, such as those
discharging pollutants to lakes and flowing
waters in the State of Florida; (2) Municipalities,
such as publicly-owned treatment works
discharging pollutants to lakes and flowing
waters in the State of Florida, and (3)
Stormwater Management Districts, including
entities responsible for managing stormwater
runoff in Florida.
For More Information
Contact Tracy Bone at bone ,tracv@epa. gov or
(202) 564-5257.

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