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Last Friday, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an agreement where the two agencies will cooperate, with FDEP taking the lead, on establishing and enforcing numeric nutrient criteria for Florida’s waterways. The agreement removes the potential for dual, perhaps conflicting, state and federal rules. It also establishes an implementation plan and provides a timeline for state rulemaking for standards for certain coastal and estuarine waters by July 2013, and for all such waters by December 1, 2014.
The parties have prepared a document titled, “Implementation of Florida’s Numeric Nutrient Standards,” which details how criteria will be developed, the relationship between the current TMDL criteria and numeric (concentration) standards, and contains discussions of how measurements will be conducted. A key point of contention between the various interests involved in this process has been how (and even whether) certain manmade South Florida drainage canals would be governed under the rules.
The Implementation plan provides that only those water bodies whose primary purpose is water management, and which are not used for navigation and which have marginal or poor habitat potential, may be excluded from the numeric criteria, and governed by the prior narrative standards. In addition, those excluded from the rule must be specifically identified, along with the extent of the canal which is so excluded. In other words, the presumption will be that South Florida waters are included until specifically excluded from the rule.
FDEP has posted its press release and the documents constituting the agreement between FDEP and EPA: http://content.govdelivery.com/bulletins/gd/FLDEP-7148e6.
Dean Mead’s Agribusiness Industry Team will continue to monitor developments in this area. For additional information, please contact Dennis Corrick, shareholder, in our Treasure Coast office at DCorrick@deanmead.com.