Florida Dept. of Agriculture testifies before Congress. Testimony gives one of the most concise and thorough explanations of what is going on between our state, the EPA, and the conflict resolution efforts underway regarding the Numeric Nutrient Criteria EPA is poised to impose on our state. Why are we tracking these events? Septic systems are specifically named as targets for nutrient reduction in EPA announcements, literature,and hearings. Orlando meeting date for the National Academy of Sciences who will review economic impact of Numeric Nutrient Criteria on Florida. TRI-County Association will attend. Breach spews sewage into wetlands near UWF. 2.2M gallons of raw sewage spill into wetlands.
Congressional Testimony EPA/NNC
Director of the Office of Agriculture Water Policy Stresses Shortcomings of Numeric Nutrient Criteria Before House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment
Washington, D.C. – Rich Budell, Director of the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services’ Office of Agriculture Water Policy, appeared before the U.S. House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment today to review the shortcomings of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) numeric nutrient criteria imposed on Florida.
“Florida believes strongly that any nutrient reduction strategy should focus on measurable environmental and biological improvement, while optimizing cost and efficiency,” said Budell. “In the preamble to their rule, EPA admits that they were unable to find a cause-and-effect relationship between nutrient concentration and biological response for flowing waters like streams and rivers. In the absence of that cause-and-effect relationship, there can be no certainty that the money and human resources devoted to reduce nutrient content in a stream or river will result in any measurable improvement in the biological condition of that stream or river.”
Budell not only addressed the issues with the policy, but also emphasized Florida’s proactive measures to make it the frontrunner for all other states in regard to improving water quality.
“Florida believes that Florida is best positioned to assess the health of its waters and establish associated water quality criteria for their protection and restoration,” said Budell. “We believe that our track record for the implementation of progressive and successful water resource management programs is one of the best in the country. Florida has earned the right to exercise the authority envisioned by the Clean Water Act to develop its own water quality standards and implement them through an EPA approved and predictable process governed by existing state law.”
Florida has placed substantial emphasis on the monitoring and assessment of its waters, collecting more water quality data than any other state. In fact, more than 30 percent of all water quality data in EPA’s national water quality database come from Florida.
The state’s Best Management Practices program, which has been implemented on more than eight million acres of agricultural and commercial forest lands, is also firmly rooted in state law, backed by sound science and critical to Florida’s overall water resource management programs.
Already, Florida has made significant progress in nutrient reduction water resource restoration. Examples range from Tampa Bay where sea grasses have returned to levels not seen since the 1950s and now cover 30,000 acres, to Lake Apopka, where phosphorous levels have been reduced by 56 percent and water clarity has increased by 54 percent.
During his testimony, Budell expressed concern with EPA’s rule making process, stating that it allowed for little input, discussion and dialogue from key stakeholders. He also noted that while Florida’s sunshine laws make all data available to the public, EPA restricted public access to this information and did not make all relevant analyses available for comment throughout the rule making process.
Furthermore, he criticized the methods used by EPA to construct its rules, stating that they were inconsistent with EPA’s own guidance documents and the advice of EPA’s Science Advisory Board. EPA also compounded this issue, inappropriately applying the methods it did use. As a result, in many cases the rule would deem healthy waters impaired.
Florida believes that, because so many other natural factors affect how nutrients impact ecosystems, nutrient management decisions are best determined on a site-specific basis. EPA criteria did not link numeric criteria with an assessment of the biological health of a water body; therefore, in some cases, Florida residents and agencies will be required to implement nutrient reduction strategies that would reduce nitrogen and phosphorous to levels below natural background.
There is also great uncertainty and debate over the cost of implementing these criteria. While EPA estimates range from $135 million to $236 million annually, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services estimates $1.6 billion annually for only agricultural land uses and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimates nearly $2 billion for only urban storm water upgrades. A study commissioned by a large coalition of Florida-based public and private entities estimates total implementation between $1 billion and $8.4 billion annually. The state is pleased EPA has agreed to request that the National Research Council convene a panel to review all of the economic studies and render an opinion on the likely costs of implementation.
In response to concerns with EPA’s numeric nutrient criteria policy, Florida’s Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam in partnership with Attorney General Pam Bondi filed a complaint in Federal Court challenging the rule. Over 30 other entities, both public and private, have subsequently filed similar Federal complaints against EPA and their Florida numeric nutrient criteria, citing the same shortcomings.
For more information on the hearing of the U.S. House Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment, please visit:
For more information about the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FreshFromFlorida.com or follow Commissioner Putnam on Facebook, http://www.facebook.com/adamputnam, or Twitter, @adamputnam.
NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES MEETING DATE:
The first meeting of the Committee on Economic Analysis of Final Water Quality Standards for Nutrients for Lakes and Flowing Waters in Florida is scheduled for July 25-27 in Orlando, FL. The meeting will begin at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, July 25 and Tuesday, July 26.
Sessions Open to the Public
Monday, July 25 (10:30 am to 5:00 pm)
Tuesday, July 26 (10: 45 am to 2:00 pm)
Embassy Suites Orlando by the airport. The address is 5835 T. G. Lee Boulevard, Orlando, FL 32822.
ESCAMBIA COUNTY: 2.2 MILLION GALLON SEWER SPILL
We have reported these before. When this happens again and again, it amazing that sewer systems are still the preferred choice of environmentalists. In the grand scheme of things, between everyday exfiltration and “accidents” like this, septic systems are a whole lot more reliable and functional and cause far less environmental damage.
Written by: Kris Wernowsky
A public health warning is in effect for the waters near the University of West Florida after 2.2 million gallons of raw sewage spilled from a nearby sewer main into the surrounding wetlands.
Dozens of smelly dead fish lined the shores and waterways of the boat launch Friday near the entrance of UWF‘s Edward Ball Nature Trail on Friday, two days after the spill. Boaters were warned to stay away.
Not until late Friday afternoon, after inquiries by a News Journal reporter, did the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority post a public notice on its website referencing the leak, which began Wednesday morning.
The spill resulted from a 12-inch PVC pipe breaking near the lift station on Greenbrier Boulevard, which dead-ends just west of UWF. The sewage then leaked into Sandy Creek and flowed north to Thompson Bayou, ECUA spokesman Jim Roberts said in a news release.
ECUA operators noticed about 9:30 a.m. Wednesday that there was a major reduction in wastewater flow through the Greenbrier lift station. The loss of flow first was thought to be from a disruption caused by lightning strikes in the area, but it was determined about 2:30 p.m. that day to be from a pipe breakage, said Pat Byrne, ECUA deputy executive director of utility operations.
Antoinette Noel, who lives in the last house on Greenbrier Boulevard before the ECUA property, said she noticed a strange smell and a lot of liquid gushing over the unpaved access road Wednesday morning as she took her dogs to the vet. “It smelled like something died,” she said. “It was gushing out of the woods. I had no idea what happened, but it didn’t look right.”
Once identified, the broken pipe was repaired and tankers were used to take the sewage to a lift station, Byrne said. It was not a new segment laid during the construction of the new $316 million wastewater treatment plant in Cantonment, which went online in December.
What caused the break still isn’t known. “We can’t stop a pipe from breaking. It’s a black eye, and we don’t like it. It should not have failed,” Byrne said.