During the 15-month period before the numeric standards take effect, EPA will work with the state to determine the next steps to achieve the objectives of the standards. The standards reflect conditions in five different watershed regions and allow for case-by-case adjustments based on local environmental factors while maintaining water quality. Governments or other dischargers can seek special consideration in cases where the state and local communities have extensively assessed water bodies and effective measures are in place to reduce nutrient pollution.
As background, the Florida Wildlife Federation filed a 2008 lawsuit against EPA, resulting in a finding in January 2009 that under the Clean Water Act nutrient standards are necessary for Florida. The resulting settlement, reflected in a consent decree entered in August 2009, required EPA to adopt numeric nutrient standards by November 2010. The final rule complies with this consent decree. Under the decree, EPA is required to issue additional standards for Florida’s coastal waters by August 2012 and anticipates submitting the underlying science for these standards to its independent Science Advisory Board for peer review in the near future.
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