As a general rule, the Unites States Environmental Protection Agency sets guidelines and tells individual States that they may not set their own guidelines in a less stringent manner. States may, however, establish and enforce more restrictive guidelines when it comes to environmental issues.

In this case, however, it appears as though the USEPA has deemed Florida’s environmental laws pertaining to the disposal of compounds containing nitrogen and phosphorous too lax and not enforced heavily enough.

TALLAHASSEE — In a move cheered by environmental groups, the federal government on Friday proposed stringent limits on “nutrient” pollution allowed to foul Florida’s waterways.

The ruling — which will cost industries and governments more than a billion dollars to comply — marks the first time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has intervened to set a state’s water-quality standards.

“I’m thrilled,” said Linda Young, director of the Clean Water Network, an advocacy group. “It is something that will ultimately start restoring Florida’s waters.”

The agency issued the proposed regulations after reaching a settlement in August with five environmental groups that sued the federal government in 2008 for not enforcing the Clean Water Act in Florida.

The caps on phosphorus and nitrogen levels in Florida’s lakes, rivers, streams, springs and canals would replace the state’s vague “narrative” approach to monitoring the effects of waste and fertilizer runoff, which the EPA deemed insufficient. The proposed rule includes provisions giving the EPA oversight authority to enforce the standards. ( source )

As one would expect, though, not everyone applauds the EPA’s involvement…

But a coalition of agriculture and industry groups – which formed two months ago to oppose the EPA rules – responded quickly by calling the proposed limits a “water tax.”

“This terrible regulation is not needed because Florida nutrient standards are perfectly adequate,” said Jim Alves, a lobbyist who represents power companies and wastewater utilities. “The science isn’t there to do this regulation.”

Barney Bishop, the president of Associated Industries of Florida, said the cost – which his group estimates at more than $50 billion – would hurt business recruitment and job creation.

“It’s onerous, stupid, ridiculous and idiotic,” he said.

Ever since the lawsuit settlement, political officials and special interests have waded into the debate. Gov. Charlie Crist, Attorney General Bill McCollum and Agriculture Commissioner Charlie Bronson previously voiced strong objections and suggested the state might sue the EPA.

The issue is expected to generate intense political debate ahead of three public hearings throughout the state in February. The final rule takes effect in October. ( source )

No matter whose side you agree with and/or side with, the fact remains that large amounts of agricultural runoff containing phosphorous, nitrates, nitrites and other compounds capable of damaging Florida’s waterways will continue until the State of Florida tightens up its enforcement or the EPA steps in and attempts to tighten up enforcement in a different, probably less friendly manner.

In the meantime, individuals can check the quality of their own water using simple, at-home drinking water test kits. Granted these drinking water test kits will not take the place of water tests conducted by certified water testing laboratories, but they will do a great job of helping people keep an eye on some critical water quality parameters.

Well Driller Master Test Kit
Well Driller Master Test Kit

Each Well Driller Master Test Kit includes the following tests:

  • 50 Free Chlorine Test Strips
  • 50 Ultra Low Total Chlorine Test Strips
  • 50 Hydrogen Sulfide Test Strips
  • 50 Total Hardness Test Strips
  • 50 Nitrate/Nitrite Test Strips
  • 50 pH Test Strips
  • 24 Manganese Tests
  • 50 Water Metals Test Strips
  • 10 Arsenic Test Strips
  • 50 Iron Test Strips
  • 50 Copper Test Strips
  • 2 Lead in Water Tests
  • 2 Pesticide Tests
  • 1 bottle of Bacteria Test