Court forces USEPA to set numbers to pollution rules for Florida

4 December 2012

The USEPA (US Environmental Protection Agency) will no longer be able to postpone setting up enforceable rules designed to reduce nutrient pollution that is damaging Florida’s waters.  Limits must now be set for 160 000 kilometers of waterways.  A  judge has ruled that no further extensions will be considered.  This court ruling comes none too soon and parallels the findings of a study that has valued Florida’s waters.

After years of court battles and foot-dragging, the federal agency has agreed to establish numeric pollution limits for some 100,000 miles of Florida waterways and 4,000 square miles of estuaries. Standards for Florida’s lakes and springs have already been set.

Moreover, those who conducted the [valuation] study, the Stockholm Environment Institute-U.S. Center, noted that since the U.S. Environmental Agency first issued a warning that our state’s waters were becoming dangerously tainted due largely to excessive nutrient pollution, the state has moved lethargically to take effective steps to clean up our waters. Needless to say, the health of Florida’s water has continued to worsen.

Staying in the courts, the Californian Water Resources Control Board has been sued by four concerned organizations over delays in setting up controls targeting polluted runoff from agriculture.  More efforts like this by Civil Society, targeting inefficient organizations and particularly inefficient officials, are needed to speed up reform regarding water quality management in surface waters.  Rumblings about the Chesapeake Bay Foundation suggest that the CBF might find itself arguing a case or two.

Not-So-Grand Lake St Mary’s is to benefit from acres of man-made wetlands designed to soak up some of the nutrients making it to the lake.  These will form part of a suite of measures to reduce the overall load. Officials have threatened strong action against any farmers who may transgress the rules.

Oregon’s Lost Creek Lake is going for the “most persistent algal bloom of 2012” award:  It’s now December and the algae have now been hanging in there for more than 73 days!

And now to Oz – whose cricket team was given a comprehensive beating this week!  Not often that the Aussies get beaten at home so big congrats to South Africa! For the Murray River area,
The Sunraysia Regional Algal Co-ordinating Committee (SRACC) issued a precautionary alert this week after high counts of the potentially toxic algae were identified at a number of sights between the Mildura weir and Red Cliffs.
A warning has also been issued for Myall Lake on the Hunter River (stunning photo with this report, by the way!).
And, finally, in New Zealand, doubtless still in some distress after the lesson their rugby teams (men and ladies) were dished out by England at the weekend (congrats to England for finally getting their act together), warnings have yet again been issued for the Hutt River.
The Regional Council’s weekly river monitoring has shown increased coverage of toxic algae at its Birchville, Maoribank and Silverstream monitoring sites along the Hutt River, presenting a potential risk to river users. The Hutt and Upper Hutt city councils are putting up warning signs along key access points to the Hutt River.
Don’t you wish your country or region benefited from the services of a Regional Algal Coordinating Committee or a Regional Council that takes weekly samples and reports them in the press?  If so then start demanding it.  Don’t leave it up to some official or other to protect your interests (unless it’s Karl Gebhardt from Ohio)!

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