3rd UF Water Institute Symposium Abstract

Submitter's Name Ellen Gilinsky
Session Name Opening Plenary - Day 1
Category Plenary Session
Author(s) Ellen Gilinsky,  Office of Water, Environmental Protection Agency (Presenting Author)
  State Development and Implementation of Nutrient Standards: Putting Florida into the National Context
  Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution is becoming one of the costliest and most challenging environmental problems we face. The health of the American people is threatened by nitrogen and phosphorus pollution in the water used for drinking and recreating. Many industries and jobs in agriculture and food processing depend on having safe, clean and abundant water resources. Clean water is vital to the economy—polluted waterways decrease tourism, property values, commercial fishing, and harm many of the business that depend on clean water. According to a recent USGS report on nitrogen and phosphorus pollution: 50 percent of U.S. streams have medium to high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus;78 percent of assessed coastal waters exhibit eutrophication; nitrate drinking water violations have doubled in eight years; algal blooms are steadily on the rise and related toxins have potentially serious health and ecological effects. EPA is firmly committed to working in partnership with states and stakeholders to address nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. EPA believes that States are best suited to address this pollution, and while the Agency has a role under the Clean Water Act if state efforts are not sufficient, EPA resources generally can best be employed by catalyzing and supporting actions by states to protect their waters from increasing nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. EPA supports giving States and local communities room to innovate and respond to local water quality needs. Our experience is that states, using tools available under federal and state law and relying on good science and local expertise, can mobilize local governments and stakeholders to achieve significant results. An effective state nutrient control framework includes prioritizing watersheds on a state-wide basis, setting load-reduction goals for these watersheds based on available water quality information, and then reducing loadings through a combination of adopting and implementing water quality standards, strengthening permits for point sources and applying reduction measures for nonpoint sources. While narrative standards provide a general verbal description of clean water conditions sufficient to support a particular use, they can be difficult to apply in practice. Numeric nutrient criteria work to keep everyone accountable in the effort to keep their waters clean because they provide specific measurable guidelines to help restore lakes, springs, rivers and streams, estuaries and coastal waters to a healthy condition. The presentation will review state efforts, including Florida, in developing effective nutrient standards.