A pollution warning sign along the Caloosahatchee River (Pic by Florida Water Coalition)

The Environmental Protection Agency has responded positively to a draft of water pollution rules submitted by the state of Florida. In a letter written on Nov. 2, an EPA rep writes that, based on a review of the state’s rules, they will likely be implemented in place of a similar set of federally mandated standards.

Earlier this week, in a statement released on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection website, department Secretary Herschel Vinyard authorized his staff to move forward with its draft of a set of water pollution standards. The standards, known as “numeric nutrient criteria,” will likely take the place of a similar set of rules mandated by the EPA. Critics argue that the EPA’s rules will prove to be too expensive to implement, so the EPA is allowing the state to create its own set of rules.

“The future of Florida’s environment depends on the health of our water resources, and no one knows our waters better than us,” said Vinyard. “This is the right thing for Florida, and the right thing to do.”

In a letter (.pdf) penned on Nov. 2, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator Nancy Stoner applauded the department’s decision to move forward with its own rules, saying that the majority of the state’s draft rules appear to be consistent with the Clean Water Act.

“While EPA’s final decision to approve or disapprove any nutrient criteria rule submitted by FDEP will follow our formal review of the rule and record under section 303(c) of the Clean Water Act (CWA), our current review of the October 24, 2011 draft rule, guidance, and other scientific and technical information supporting the draft rule, leads us to the preliminary conclusion that EPA would be able to approve the draft rule under the CWA,” writes Stoner. “Should EPA formally approve FDEP’s final nutrient criteria as consistent with the CWA, EPA would initiate rulemaking to withdraw federal numeric nutrient criteria for any waters covered by the new and approved state water quality standards.”

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