Environmental Protection Agency signs off on tougher clean water standards

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Federal environmental officials on Friday complied with a federal judge’s order to set specific water standards for Florida waterways and estuaries in what environmentalists said was a clear victory in their battle to bolster Florida’s water quality, reports Michael Peltier of the News Service of Florida.

In a notice filed with U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle in Tallahassee, U.S. EPA Secretary Lisa Jackson said the agency had complied with all aspects of a consent decree reached between federal and state officials following a 2008 lawsuit brought by a coalition of environmental groups seeking stricter standards.

Friday’s announcement sets in motion the establishment of numeric standards for nutrient concentrations on some 100,000 miles of Florida waterways and 4,000 square miles of estuaries.

The new standards come in addition to nutrient requirements already in place for lakes and springs.

“This is absolutely everything we hoped for,” said Earthjustice lawyer David Guest, in a statement. Guest represented environmental groups in the court case. “This is the reddest letter day of them all.”

Hinkle in February ordered the EPA to revise the proposed requirements. The EPA was initially supposed to file changes by May 21, but made multiple requests for more time.

Last week, EPA again asked for a delay, but Hinkle said he would not extend the Nov. 30 deadline. The case is Florida Wildlife Federation et al. V. Jackson. 4:08-cv-00324-RH-WCS.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.