Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

Be Informed.

Ask Gov. Crist to Veto SB 2080

Call Gov. Charlie Crist now and ask him to VETO SB 2080 …please.

When you call…tell the staff member your name, city, phone number and let him know how you feel about HB 2080. He has till Saturday (or earlier) to sign or VETO this bill. If we can create enough opposition, it may be possible he will NOT sign the bill.

OSFR is very concerned because if this is accepted as a law, all the work we have done in the last few years will be threatened. This bill will seriously limit any citizen input in the Water Management Districts. BAD Bill.

Please help,
Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson
President of OSFR

Fw:water wars…. HB 2080 and EPA suit

House Bill 2080 was quietly approved the last day of session and is sitting
on the governors desk for signing. This bill essentially grants power to
Water Management District Directors to approve all ERP and CUP permits
without having to go to the board. That means NO public has any imput no
public comment or meeting. Therefore, there would be no third party
challenges and effectively removes all opposition opportunities for all


And then,….
The May 5, 2009 suit complains that the US EPA has been arbitrary in
allowing Florida to create new or revised standards, that are
substantially less protective of water quality than pre-existing water
quality standards (Chapter 62-302).


May 6, 2009
Linda Young


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Tallahassee, FL:   Three environmental organizations have filed suit
against  the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over its approval of
Florida’s latest efforts to circumvent the Clean Water Act. The suit was
filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida in
Tallahassee on Monday, May 4th, by the Florida Clean Water Network, St.
Johns Riverkeeper and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida.

In 2007, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP)
adopted  an amended Impaired Waters Rule (IWR), as a new water quality standard in
Florida. FDEP submitted the amended IWR to EPA for approval as a change
to  Florida’s water quality standards, on September 14, 2007. The Florida
Clean  Water Network and more than 60 environmental, recreational, and civic
organizations had submitted comments to FDEP and the US EPA expressing a
number of objections to the amended IWR as changes to Florida?s Water
Quality Standards.

On February 18, 2008, EPA published a Determination Upon Review of
Amended  Florida Administrative Code Chapter 62-303, Identification of Impaired
Surface Waters (the 2008 Determination.)    In the 2008 Determination,
EPA concluded that some provisions of the amended IWR are new or revised
water  quality standards, and approved those provisions as changes to Florida’s
water quality standards. EPA also concluded that some provisions of the
amended IWR are not water quality standards. EPA?s determination was not
entirely consistent with previous determinations made regarding the IWR.

As years roll by, FDEP’s continued efforts to circumvent the plain
language  of the Clean Water Act get more and more complicated and difficult for
citizens to navigate,  says Linda Young, director of the Florida Clean
Water Network.   “This is not just obsessing over rules, this is about having
safe  water to swim in, uncontaminated fish and shellfish and preventing toxic
algal blooms in our communities,” Young says.

Florida DEP has deliberately defied Clean Water Act requirements for the
past nine years (at least). For several years since 2002, FDEP illegally
used the Chapter 62-303 F.A.C. to construct an Impaired Waters List.
without sending it to the US EPA for approval. Then in October 2008,
FDEP sent a partially updated Impaired Waters List to EPA to review.
EPA has expressed concerns with Florida’s list and has been in negotiations
with Florida over the approval/disapproval of that list. Florida is expected
to amend their latest lists in the next few months and resubmit it to EPA.
Florida Clean Water Network filed suit against the EPA in April for their
failure to approve or disapprove Florida’s 303(d) lists for the past six

The May 5, 2009 suit complains that the US EPA has been arbitrary in
allowing Florida to create new or revised standards, that are
substantially less protective of water quality than pre-existing water
quality standards (Chapter 62-302). The new standards (Chapter 62-303)
are supposed to only  apply for the TMDL program, which creates additional confusion
for  Floridians who are trying to protect waters in their communities.

Some of the real consequences of Florida’s new standards are that it is
much  more difficult to get pollution reduction requirements for waters that
are  overly polluted with bacteria. Also, many waters that have too much
nitrogen or phosphorus are ignored by the rule, leading to toxic algal

“The Florida DEP continues to circumvent the Clean Water Act, and the St.
Johns River suffers. We’ve already seen algae blooms this year in the
River,”  said St. Johns Riverkeeper Neil Armingeon. “The EPA has given
Florida polluters a free ride for the last eight years. With this suit,
citizens have sent the message that it’s time to turn the page,”  he

Too much nitrogen, phosphorus and/or bacteria are some of Florida’s most
serious water quality issues. Using Florida’s long-standing water
quality criteria, hundreds of springs, lakes, rivers and bays are considered too
polluted for their designated uses (shell-fish, swimming, fish habitat,
etc.). However, under the IWR, it is much more difficult to find a water
unacceptably polluted with bacteria and many unsafe waters are allowed to
continue receiving excessive pollution loads, often caused by storm water

According to Andrew McElwaine, President of the Conservancy of Southwest
Florida, “nutrient-laden storm water is not only a disaster for urban
estuaries such as Naples Bay and the Caloosahatchee, but is also
impairing water quality in such national treasures as the Rookery Bay National
Estuarine Research Reserve and the 10,000 Islands National Wildlife
Without prompt and firm action by EPA and FDEP, these treasured places we
thought had been protected will instead see rising levels of nutrient
pollution and contamination,” said McElwaine.

In 2007, Florida beaches were unsafe for swimming at least 2,686 days
according to reports filed by county health departments. The IWR allows
water samples taken during wet weather conditions to be ignored if FDEP
so chooses, despite the fact that rainwater is one of the primary carriers
of  polluted run-off and leads to beach closures.

One of the most outrageous loopholes in the IWR is known as the mack-
truck loop hole and is being used more and more by the state to keep
polluted waters from getting pollution limits. This amazing by-pass of the Clean
Water Act allows DEP to evaluate where proposed actions to be taken by
almost anyone will someday result in clean water again. DEP can allow
excessive pollution to continue endlessly in the hope that proposed
actions will someday correct the problem.

‘We defeated the IWR once and instead of graciously allowing the citizens
of  Florida to begin enjoying the protection of the Clean Water Act, Florida
DEP created an unanticipated seat at the Clean Water Act-family table,” says
Young.  “Alongside the federally sanctioned standards (designated uses,
criterion and anti-degradation policy) Florida unilaterally decided to
add a  fourth, by adopting the IWR as a new standard. We contend that this 4th
child (so to speak) was illegally adopted and should have no place at the
table. We have asked the court to read the law and make EPA do its job
to  protect Floridians’ right to safe waters for drinking, swimming, fishing
and  other protected uses,” Young says.

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