I’m of the opinion that all of the suggested language options have the effect of suggesting deferment to the EPA estimate of costs as only they can know how they would implement the criteria. If EPA knows how they would implement the criteria then they should have articulated such in their promulgated rule. On many occasions we promoted the establishment of approved TMDLS [Total Maximum Daily Loads] as [Site Specific Alternative Criteria.] They rejected the idea consistently and chose to not include them in their promulgated rule. As such, I think it is inappropriate for them to suggest in their economic assessment that these TMDL will reduce the cost of implementation. In fact they assume no additional costs resulting from the promulgated rule where a TMDL has been adopted. How can you reject TMDLs (and they did reject) on one level and embrace them in another? … I am of the opinion we should be very direct in stating why the economic assessment put forward by EPA is flawed. [Emphasis added.]

In a statement to The Florida Independent, Department of Environmental Protection Press Secretary Dee Ann Miller said that there are three main reasons the EPA’s cost estimates differ from her agency’s:

In their cost estimates EPA assumed that only a certain level of treatment (e.g., Advanced Wastewater Treatment) for wastewater is necessary; DEP assumed implementation of a level of treatment necessary to achieve criteria concentrations in wastewater before discharge would be necessary. EPA’s cost estimates for each of the sectors (wastewater, stormwater, agriculture, etc.) did not address the full range of costs contained in DEP’s estimates. Thirdly, EPA’s cost estimate assumes there would be no cost for waters for which there is or eventually would be a TMDL, which assumes that future actions (not the current rule) would recognize the TMDL as the criterion for those waters.

According to the EPA, costs associated with implementing the Total Maximum Daily Loads weren’t included in cost estimates, because those costs would be incurred regardless of whether or not nutrient criteria are implemented.

Based on even the lowest cost estimates, the numeric nutrient criteria for inland streams, rivers and lakes in the state of Florida promulgated by EPA on December 6, 2010 will result in additional costs to many Floridians. DEP is currently analyzing the remaining legal and scientific issues, as well as the policy considerations associated with nutrient criteria, to explore whether State rules could be developed in a practical way that provides protection to our water resources without causing unnecessary spending of public and private money.

He ended his email with a suggestion to change one of the sentences:

Final thought: You may want to change one phrase from “explore whether State rules could be developed” to “explore whether State action could be taken”. What we do may not be rulemaking and this leaves the door open.

A recent Gallup poll reveals that clean water issues top the list of Americans’ environmental concerns.

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