In January 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) drafted new rules for the Water Quality Numeric Nutrient Criteria (NNC), but were never fully implemented due to many legal challenges. To protect our waters from pollutants, such as excess nitrogen and phosphorus which can cause algal blooms, these set numeric limits are aimed to reduce the pollutant load. These proposed rules, however, were proven to be subjective and unreliable, which led to the EPA’s decision to move forward with repealing the new rules and allowing the implementation of the State of Florida’s water quality rules.
This January 2014, the court granted the EPA’s request to modify the consent decree to exclude the adoption of numeric downstream-protection criteria or NNC for Florida streams or marine waters, tidally influenced streams, or conveyances primarily used for water-management purposes with marginal or poor stream habitat components. This ruling would have moved us closer to implementing Florida’s NNC rules, rather than the EPA’s proposed federal criteria, however this decision has now been appealed to the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, Georgia.
Our team will continue to monitor this as it unfolds and will keep our clients informed. For additional information on how these rules could affect you, please contact Andy Tilton, P.E. at [email protected].