The Florida Times-Union this morning confirmed an earlier story on The Florida Independent — that several industry groups were in D.C. this week to lobby against the EPA’s proposed numeric nutrient standards. In a story about pollution in the St. Johns River, Steve Patterson writes that the “EPA settled with the activists last year by committing to impose clear, number-based nutrient standards on the state. That agreement is being fought by a series of business groups, who this week lobbied Congress to help them.”
There are currently no set standards for nutrient pollution in St. Johns, and only part of the EPA’s numeric nutrient standards are set to take effect this October. More delays in the implementation of these standards would mean more nutrients and, ultimately, more algal blooms and fish kills.
In emails sent to The Florida Independent, the Florida Farm Bureau insinuated that a representative had been in Washington to meet with members of Congress regarding the nutrient standards, but the organization did not give specifics.
The river has also recently been plagued by a bizarre foam which recent tests reveal to be a side effect of the algal blooms. Carli Segelson, the media coordinator at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, says that some of the tests reveal “medium concentrations of five to six different species of blue-green algae.”
Though Segelson says that some foam can release toxins, this foam “does not appear to be toxic.” Which raises the question: Has the foam been tested for toxins? Engelson says that, because no fish kills have been reported as an effect of the foam, no toxicity tests have been performed: “We did not test for toxins, as [the foam] does not appear to be toxic to aquatic organisms. But if someone does see a fish kill, they can report it to the Fish Kill Hotline.” Further information can also be obtained by calling the Department of Health’s aquatic toxins hotline.