Building upon the Tallahassee hearing yesterday, today was Orlando’s turn.
The Florida Water Environment Association (FWEA) Utility Council issued the following point-by-point debunking of the EPA’s claims at this week’s hearings:
FWEA Utility Council Member Alert
At the February 16th numeric nutrient criteria hearing in Tallahassee, EPA gave a presentation regarding nutrient problems in Florida. [Attached]. The presentation included numerous statements regarding the ill effects of nutrient pollution, including “blue baby syndrome,” bladder cancer, and harm to manatees’ food supplies. Additionally, the presentation included pictures of nutrient-impaired waters, including a 1995 picture of Lake Apopka (four years before Florida even had a TMDL program) and 2005 pictures of algal blooms in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers (that appear likely related to the active hurricane season in 2005 and the significant — multi-million gallon — releases from Lake Okeechobee). EPA uses these assertions in an effort to justify its proposed numeric nutrient criteria.
Utility Council members speaking at the Orlando and West Palm Beach meetings are encouraged to challenge EPA’s assertions in its presentation. I suggest that you consider making the following points:
– There is no “blue baby syndrome” epidemic in Florida. Unlike most states, Florida has nitrate groundwater standards for drinking water. There may be times when these existing standards are violated, but such isolated events do not justify new surface water quality criteria. References to “blue babies” is little more than fear mongering and misinforms the public that there are blue baby syndrome problems in Florida.
– The presentation references bladder cancer and liver damage as a result of nutrient pollution, but EPA provides no information that there has been a single case of bladder cancer or liver damage in Florida due to nutrients in surface waters.
– The presentation references algal damages to eel grass and notes that eel grass is food source for manatees. This reference seems to indicate that eel grass impairment is somehow harming manatee populations. The presentation notably omits, however, that a 2010 aerial survey identified 5,067 manatees statewide – the most ever counted. So, it is not as if the manatee population is declining due to nutrient issues.
– The presentation included data that 1,000 miles of Florida’s 50,000 miles of rivers and streams are impaired by nutrients. This means that 98% of Florida’s rivers and streams are not impaired by nutrients. Therefore the pictures of green waters you are only representative of 2% Florida’s rivers and streams, and many of those streams already have TMDLs (numeric nutrient water quality standards) designed to recover the water bodies.
– Pictures of nutrient impaired waters from 2005 are not representative of the condition of Florida waters. The 2005 Atlantic hurricane season was the most active season in the Atlantic in recorded history. There were 28 tropical storms in the Atlantic for the first time since systematic record keeping began about 150 years ago. Hurricane Wilma in particular pounded Florida and in part forced the release of millions of gallons of water from Lake Okeechobee. You need to check your facts and see if the pictures of green water in the Caloosahatchee, St. Lucie, and St. Johns Rivers are related to the record setting weather of 2005 and whether such extreme events can really be relied upon as a basis for setting Federal standards.
– A 15-year old photo of Lake Apopka bears no relationship to present day Florida. It predates Florida’s TMDL program by four years, and also predates the substantial efforts to improve water quality in Lake Apopka. The Friends of Lake Apopka website states: “Current data shows considerable improvements in decreased phosphorus levels and recent reports indicate fishing has improved dramatically.”
David W. Childs
Hopping Green & Sams, P.A.
119 South Monroe Street, Suite 300
Tallahassee, Florida 32301
(850) 222-7500 Telephone
(850) 224-8551 Facsimile
I’m not sure the EPA has any science whatsoever on their side in these new proposed regulations.