Judge: Water Pollution Limits Must Take Effect in Two Weeks
Feb,20, 2012 | WMFE - A federal judge in Tallahassee has ruled that specific limits on sewage, manure and fertilizer contamination in state waters must take effect March 6. The pollutants feed algae blooms on lakes, rivers and streams. The blooms can cause health problems in humans and can be fatal to wildlife.
U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle's ruling on Saturday ended years of delays in setting those limits.
The environmental group Earthjustice filed a federal lawsuit in 2008 seeking limits on the pollutants in Florida. The suit argued that the federal Clean Water Act wasn’t being enforced in Florida, despite a ruling in 1998 ordering all states to comply with an order from the US Environmental Protection Agency to set verifiable limits on nutrient discharges that are largely responsible for algae blooms and other pollution of the state’s inland waters.
In 2009, the EPA set numeric limits for the phosphorus and nitrogen that come from sewage, fertilizer and manure in Florida waters.
But in November, the state Department of Environmental Protection submitted an alternative set of rules for state measuring of nutrients.
The judge’s ruling requires the state to begin enforcing the federal numeric standards by March 6th.
Opponents of the federal EPA rules say there isn’t adequate scientific basis for numeric limits on pollution. They say the EPA standards would force costly upgrades of sewage-treatment plant and other facilities which discharge water into the state’s rivers and streams.