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9/9 FRI 11:00 EPA's Numeric Nutrient Criteria 4


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Luna Phillips

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has announced its intent to adopt numeric nutrient criteria for Florida’s water bodies (lakes, streams, canals and estuaries). The criterion is
unprecedented in the nation and has drawn national attention to Florida’s water quality programs. The panel will discuss the legal genesis of this proposed rule, including the most up to date developments in the state legislature and Congress; its technical aspects, including the scientific basis for the rule; implementation
and relief mechanisms; and the criteria’s impact on Florida’s current permitting programs, as well as its impact on a wide variety of stakeholders in Florida.

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9/9 FRI 11:00 EPA's Numeric Nutrient Criteria 4

  1. 1. Luna Phillips, Esq .
  2. 2. Background <ul><li>Excessive nutrients are alleged to cause algae blooms, encourage growth of nuisance vegetation and reduce dissolved oxygen </li></ul><ul><li>Harmful to fish and wildlife and reduce available habitat; </li></ul><ul><li>Phosphorus and nitrogen </li></ul>
  3. 5. Water Quality Standard <ul><li>Nutrients are regulated under current WQS </li></ul><ul><li>Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 303(c) requires states to develop water quality standards; </li></ul><ul><li>Water Quality Standards must include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Designated uses of a water body; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Water quality criteria that are necessary to protect the designated use; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anti-degradation components; </li></ul></ul>
  4. 6. Water Quality Standards Today <ul><li>Water Quality Criteria may be expressed in: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Numeric form; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Narrative form (e.g. no imbalance in natural populations of flora or fauna); </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Florida Currently has narrative nutrient criterion </li></ul><ul><li>Numeric Criterion in the Everglades of 10 ppb for P </li></ul><ul><li>“ In no case shall nutrient concentrations of a body of water be altered so as to cause an imbalance in natural populations of aquatic flora or fauna.” </li></ul><ul><li>Rule 62-302.530, F.A.C., Table (47)(b); </li></ul>
  5. 7. When Standards are not reached <ul><li>Water body is considered impaired </li></ul><ul><li>Must adopt a TMDLs for that water body </li></ul><ul><li>TMDL – Total Maximum Daily Load that a water body can tolerate of a nutrient </li></ul><ul><li>NPDES permits holders - utilities, municipalities, the STAs - incorporate the TMDLs into discharges </li></ul><ul><li>Discharges into impaired water bodies must demonstrate that it will not cause or contribute to the impairment. </li></ul>
  6. 8. EPA’s Numeric Nutrient Criteria <ul><li>Florida’s Narrative criteria challenged </li></ul><ul><li>Lawsuit in July 2008 claimed that EPA had previously stated, in guidance, that numeric criteria was needed </li></ul><ul><li>Mandate EPA to adopt numeric criteria for Florida </li></ul><ul><li>January 14, 2009 – EPA issued a determination that numeric nutrient criteria were necessary for Florida to meet CWA requirements </li></ul>
  7. 9. What is in the Numeric Nutrient Criteria <ul><li>Lawsuit settled in August 2009 with Consent Decree </li></ul><ul><li>On January 26, 2010 the EPA proposed Numeric Nutrient Criteria (NNC) for Florida </li></ul><ul><li>The NNC covers the entire state with eco-regions </li></ul><ul><li>Rivers, Streams, Lakes and South Florida Canals </li></ul><ul><li>Phosphorus, Nitrogen, Chlorophyll A </li></ul>
  8. 11. NNC NNC for Florida’s Streams Region Total Nitrogen (mg/L) Total Phosphorus (mg/L) Panhandle West 0.67 0.06 Panhandle East 1.03 0.18 North Central 1.87 0.30 West Central 1.65 0.49 Peninsula 1.54 0.12
  9. 12. NNC NNC for Florida’s Lakes Lake Color/Alkalinity Chl-a (mg/L) Total Nitrogen (mg/L) Total Phosphorus (mg/L) Colored Lakes 0.020 1.27 0.05 Clear Lakes, High Alkalinity 0.020 1.05 0.03 Clear Lakes, Low Alkalinity 0.006 0.51 0.01
  10. 13. Numeric Nutrient Criteria for South Florida Canals Total Phosphorus = 42 parts per billion Total Nitrogen = 1.6 parts per million Chlorophyll a= 4 ppb
  11. 14. NNC Provides for SSAC’s <ul><li>SSAC – Site Specific Alternative Criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Request an alternative criteria to the NNC </li></ul><ul><li>Difficult process to prove, </li></ul><ul><li>EPA has admitted it has never approved let alone processed a SSAC; </li></ul>
  12. 15. Technical Public Comments on the NNC <ul><ul><li>Whether levels are protective </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Methodology of Reference site approach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Data set used </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Failure to Comply with EPA’s own Guidance documents </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Failure to consider the variability in water bodies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of analysis on supported habitat in a water body </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Canals – no accounting for flood control or water supply functions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>DPV – Difficult to implement / Sparrow Model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pristine water bodies cannot meet the criteria </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Allow TMDLs process to continue </li></ul></ul>
  13. 16. Infrastructure Impact <ul><li>Waste Water Treatment Plants - new treatment technologies , none tested to these levels </li></ul><ul><li>Stormwater Dischargers - do not have same treatment requirements </li></ul><ul><li>More BMPs for storm water discharges – residential, agricultural or municipal </li></ul><ul><li>Increased treatment and infrastructure investments for utilities and governments </li></ul><ul><li>Impede Reclaim / Reuse of Water </li></ul>
  14. 17. Economic Impact of the NNC <ul><ul><li>EPA’s estimates for compliance $4.7 and $10.1 million; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The State of Florida and industry has estimated the compliance costs in the billions ; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Agricultural industry estimates 855 million an d 3 billion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Phosphate mining estimates at $1.6 billion in capital expenses and $59 million in annual operating expenses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Utilities expect costs in the billions and as much as $600 annual in water utility bills </li></ul></ul>
  15. 18. EPA’s Response to the Public Comments <ul><li>December 6, 2010 – EPA published the Final NNC </li></ul><ul><li>Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida’s Lakes and Flowing Waters (40 C.F.R. Part 131); </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most of NNC becomes effective March 6, 2012; </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Site Specific Alternative Criteria (SSAC) became effective February 4, 2011 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Applies to lakes and springs, rivers </li></ul><ul><li>Removed Estuarine and South Florida Canals - November 2011 / Final rule August 2012 </li></ul>
  16. 19. NNC Litigation <ul><ul><li>9 lawsuits have been filled challenging the NNC </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The State of Florida </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The SFWMD </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Utilities </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Florida Cattlemen Association </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>FDEP filed Petition asking EPA to withdraw its 2009 Determination – April 22, 2011 </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 20. Latest on NNC <ul><ul><li>Congressional Leaders have issued letters – </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Senator Rubio legislation to defund NNC </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Senator Nelson’s Letter to Lisa Jackson to suspend NNC </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Congressman Stearns ‘ Hearings </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>57 Organizations have written to the Congress re NNC </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>HB 239 on NNC – New Version In January? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>New Reclassification of water bodies in Florida </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>EPA Letter to DEP September 6, 2011 </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Addresses the State’s authority regarding the NNC </li></ul></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Science Advisory Board – July 2011 on the SF Canal Portion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>More is needed on Estuarine health, lack of causal link , questioned whether the criteria was meaningful to protect managed or man made canals. </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  18. 21. What’s Next ? <ul><li>NNC Rule Develops in the Courtroom </li></ul><ul><li>National and Congressional Attention </li></ul><ul><li>The DEP is developing its own NNC Rule </li></ul><ul><li>DEP and EPA continue negotiations over rule </li></ul><ul><li>Reclassification of Florida’s water bodies </li></ul><ul><li>South Florida Canal Portion - November 2011 </li></ul>
  19. 22. <ul><li>Luna Phillips, Esq. </li></ul><ul><li>Board Certified in State and Federal Administrative and State Practice </li></ul><ul><li>LEED AP </li></ul><ul><li>954.712.1478 </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul>