Environmentalists Blast EPA Endorsement of State Water Rules

Algae bloom in the Caloosahatchee River at Franklin Lock, June 17, 2008. (Photo courtesy John Cassani/EarthJustice)
TAMPA (2011-11-2) -

The state and federal government have been grappling for years over setting new limits on amount of nutrients that can lead to water pollution. The EPA was set to impose its own solution on the state next year, but today it issued a preliminary approval to new state rules. But some environmentalists say the new rules aren't tough enough on polluters.

In a 2009 settlement with the environmental group EarthJustice, the EPA agreed to take over the setting of water quality standards from state officials. But today, the EPA appeared to back down and accept the state's new standards.

Earthjustice lawyer David Guest says the proposed rules will do little to battle outbreaks of algae blooms in springs and bays. He says EPA is "capitulating" to state regulators.

"Florida families around the state are threatened with toxic algae outbreaks in places where its unsafe for their pets to go in the water, unsafe for their children to swim and sometimes endangering the safety of their drinking water," says Guest. "We expect, and have a right, to have our environmental agencies protect us from that. Today, they decided to cave to the big polluters."

Guest says EarthJustice will continue to fight any weakened rules in court.

Calls to the EPA for comment were not returned. Some businesses and agriculture interests have said tougher federal rules would be too costly to implement. Click here to read the the state DEP's position.

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