Today, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that they have reached an agreement on the four-year-long dispute over Florida’s nutrient water quality standards program. The agreement, outlined in a joint “Path Forward” memorandum, anticipates EPA withdrawing its federal nutrient criteria rules in the coming months and DEP completing its promulgation of state nutrient criteria for Florida’s estuaries and ocean waters by December 2014. DEP will also adopt by rule its implementation guidance document, which explains how the state will distinguish between streams, on the one hand, and canals, agricultural ditches, and urban stormwater conveyances, on the other hand. Additionally, the agreement anticipates Florida adopting legislation that codifies DEP’s rulemaking schedule and clarifies how FDEP will manage nutrient loads from upstream water bodies to maintain nutrient water quality health of downstream water bodies.
The announcement of the agreement was lauded by industry, agriculture, and governmental leaders across the state, including Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agricultural Commissioner Adam Putnam.
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