Numeric Nutrient Standards
DEP is moving forward with proposed rules for numeric nutrient standards for Florida’s waterways. These rules set limits on the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen, also known as nutrients, allowed in Florida’s waters. DEP based these rules on more than a decade of research and data collection, and designed them to improve water quality, protect public health and preserve aquatic life in Florida’s waters. View a Numeric Nutrient Standards Overview. View a video of Drew Bartlett, DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration director, presenting numeric nutrient standards to the Senate Committee on Environmental Preservation and Conservation.
June 7, 2012 Statement
The following is a statement from DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. regarding outcome of the Administrative Hearing for Numeric Nutrient Standards on June 7, 2012.
“Today’s ruling by Administrative Law Judge Bram D. E. Canter upholds DEP’s numeric nutrient standard rules, further supporting and validating that Florida is taking the right steps to get our state’s water right. These rules have been peer reviewed and have received not only the full support of the legislature and members of the Cabinet, but of the court, as well.
“The state of Florida is, and has historically been, a national leader in assessing and addressing the health of our waterways. Florida has spent years studying our waterbodies, and no one knows our water better than us. DEP scientists and other hard-working professionals have dedicated their lives to protecting the environment and understanding the complexity of Florida’s unique waterbodies. Florida has made a significant investment, spanning more than a decade, studying and collecting data regarding nutrients in Florida’s unique aquatic ecosystems. We have used this science to develop a set of rules for the state of Florida that are the most comprehensive nutrient standards in the nation.
“We have crafted not only standards, but also the rules detailing implementation of the standards. Our rules provide a clear process for identifying waters impaired by nutrients, preventing harmful discharges and establishing necessary reductions. They provide a reasonable and predictable implementation strategy and avoid unnecessary costs on Florida’s households and businesses. DEP has invested millions of dollars to generate nutrient rules for Florida’s waters and has now received a full endorsement from the judge confirming that DEP’s rules will protect our waterways at an affordable price.
“Our rules have been submitted to EPA for their final review and approval. EPA scientists have already confirmed that DEP’s rules are accurate, correct and will continue to improve our state’s water quality. With today’s pronouncement by the court that Floridians and DEP are on the right track to getting the water right, we look forward to getting them on the books as soon as possible. It’s time to turn our focus on improving water quality, put our plan into action and end needless litigation that delays Florida’s rules.”
Letter from EPA from members of Florida’s congressional delegation.
Letter to EPA from Senator Bill Nelson.
Feb. 16, 2012 Statement
The following is a statement from DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. regarding Florida’s numeric nutrient standards to get Florida’s water right on Feb. 16, 2012, awaiting final approval from EPA.
“Governor Rick Scott signed legislation today that supports Florida moving forward with setting numeric nutrient standards for our waterbodies, by presenting our rules for to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for final approval. A healthy environment depends on getting Florida’s water right, in terms of both water supply and water quality. No one knows Florida’s water better than Floridians, and these rules will allow us to effectively protect water quality in our state.
“Our rules provide a clear process for identifying waters impaired by nutrients, preventing harmful discharges and establishing necessary reductions. They provide a reasonable and predictable implementation strategy, and avoid unnecessary costs for Florida’s households and businesses.
“We are pleased that we will now be able to submit our widely supported rules for final EPA approval. It’s important to start addressing our nutrient challenges, and we look forward to getting these rules on the books and implemented as soon as possible.”
Dec. 8, 2011 Statement
Before the proposed rules are presented to the Legislature for ratification in early 2012, DEP first had to present the rules to the Environmental Regulation Commission for adoption. The following is a statement from DEP Secretary Herschel T. Vinyard Jr. regarding the ERC vote on Dec. 8, 2011, to adopt the rules.
“The Environmental Regulation Commission unanimously approved amended rules for numeric nutrient standards for Florida, which will serve to protect our rivers, lakes, streams, springs and estuaries.The future of Florida’s environment depends on the health of our water resources, and no one knows our waters better than us. This is the right thing for Florida, and the right thing to do.
“We are pleased with the outcome of today’s vote, and look forward to working with the Florida Legislature to advance the most comprehensive nutrient pollution limitations in the nation.
“Florida has invested millions of dollars to create nutrient rules that address the complexity of Florida’s waters, and we remain committed to finishing the job.”
Dec. 1, 2011 Statment
On Dec. 1, 2011, EarthJustice, a non-profit environmental law firm, filed a legal challenge claiming DEP is weakening pollution limits. The following is DEP’s statement in response to the legal challenge.
“The Florida Department of Environmental Protection remains confident that adopting our nutrient rules is the right thing for Florida.Protecting Florida’s water resources is a top priority of the Department, and we lead the nation in knowledge, research and action related to nutrient standards. As such, Florida is best positioned to develop these rules. The EPA, local governments, citizens and organizations statewide, support us moving forward with our rules.Public input, including legal challenges, are an important part of our rulemaking process. However, it is action that will ultimately protect and restore our waterbodies.”
Nov. 2, 2011 Statement
On Nov. 2, 2011, DEP submitted the proposed rules and meeting notice to the Florida Administrative Weekly. The following is a statement on this submittal from DEP Secretary Vinyard.
“I authorized staff to move forward with rulemaking for numeric nutrient standards for Florida. The future of Florida’s environment depends on the health of our water resources, and no one knows our waters better than us. This is the right thing for Florida, and the right thing to do.If adopted, these rules will be the most comprehensive nutrient pollution limitations in the nation, and will serve to protect our rivers, lakes, streams, springs and estuaries.Using more than a decade of data collection and analysis, Florida has developed standards that account for the individual characteristics and needs of Florida’s diverse water resources. By setting standards focused on site-specific conditions we are better able to protect public health, improve water quality and preserve aquatic life in Florida’s unique water resources throughout the state.
“Florida’s efforts go beyond crafting scientifically-sound standards for our waterbodies. We also provide a reasonable and predictable strategy to implement these standards, allowing us to direct our resources to where they will have the most meaningful benefit to our environment and reduce the financial burdens on Florida’s homeowners and businesses.
“The state of Florida is, and has historically been, a national leader assessing and addressing the health of our waterways. Florida accounts for 30 percent of the national water quality dataset, far surpassing any other state in the nation. These rules are the result of years of work not only by DEP, but by Florida’s stakeholders, including environmental groups, governments, water management districts, business and agricultural interests.
“We’ve worked closely with the EPA throughout the rule development process, and appreciate their cooperation and feedback.
“Florida has invested millions of dollars to create nutrient rules that address the complexity of Florida’s waters, and we intend to finish the job.”
Myth vs. Reality – a helpful guide to Florida’s Numeric Nutrient Standards
Nutrients are natural substances that our ecosystems need in order to be healthy. They are very different from toxic pollutants, but can become a problem when they occur in excess of what naturally occurs in an aquatic system. Nutrients have a very complex relationship with the natural environment, which is based in large part on the type of aquatic system in which they are found. What may be healthy or unhealthy for one waterbody may not be for another.
|DEP’s numeric standards are less protective than those outlined in the federal rule.||Not true. Numerically, DEP’s rules are practically identical to EPA’s. In fact, EPA’s rule was based on its interpretations of DEP data and analysis. The real difference, however, is how the rules will be implemented. DEP’s rules allow for real-world verification of biological impacts and provide a reasonable and predictable implementation strategy. It also incorporates a trend test to measure nutrients over time so that DEP can identify potential problems before they occur. None of these measures were included in the federal rule.|
See more Myth Versus Reality …
In the news
DEP’s Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration Director Drew Bartlett responds to articles regarding the proposed rules.
- Florida Times Union Letter to the Editor – Nov. 16, 2011
- St. Petersburg Times Letter to the Editor – Nov. 11, 2011
- Palm Beach Post Letter to the Editor – Nov. 10, 2011
- Bradenton Herald Letter to the Editor - Nov. 10, 2011