Protecting Clean Water from Nutrient Pollution — New Standard in Florida

Excess phosphorus and nitrogen is a leading cause of pollution of streams and rivers nationwide. This sort of nutrient pollution comes from a variety of sources but in many cases is unregulated and leads to major problems like the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Global warming will intensify the effect of nutrients in many places as warmer water will enhance algal blooms that cause such dead zones.

Fortunately, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) just proposed nutrient limits for streams, lakes, and rivers in Florida. This is a key action needed to restore clean water providing a cleanup target. The standards resulted from a lawsuit challenging the existing qualitative, narrative standard that was impossible to measure, much less enforce. Many if not most states still have the unenforceable standards, although state water pollution control agencies list development of numeric nutrient criteria as one of the top strategies for reducing nutrient pollution.

Already Wisconsin is facing a similar challenge – so hopefully, this is a wakeup call to states to get moving to protect clean water from too much nutrient pollution or else have EPA come in and do the job for them!