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EPA solicits public comment on proposed rules to limit nutrient pollution

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EPA will hold information sessions and webinars to solicit public comment on its proposed federal rules to protect Florida waterways from excess nitrogen and phosphorus. These pollutants, called "nutrients," cause algal blooms, contaminate drinking water supplies and are among the largest contributors to water quality problems. EPA recently approved the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's revised nutrient pollution rules for statewide springs, lakes, streams and some estuaries. However, in accordance with a 2009 consent decree with the Florida Wildlife Federation and-because the state's rules do not cover some coastal waters, many estuaries and a subset of flowing waters-EPA has proposed two federal rules that address these waters.

  1. EPA's Inland Remand Rule serves to clarify some provisions in the rule EPA promulgated in 2010 establishing numeric nutrient limits in Florida's streams and rivers. These provisions were remanded (sent back) to EPA for further action by the U.S. District Court. The rule is posted online at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-12-18/pdf/2012-30114.pdf
  2. and more information can be found at: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/florida_inland.cfm

EPA has proposed to stay (postpone the applicability of) this rule to November 15, 2013. The stay will allow time to gain clarity on the implementation of Florida's rules.
  1. EPA's Coastal Rule proposes numeric nutrient limits for those estuaries not covered by the State rule, coastal waters and flowing waters in South Florida. The rule is posted online at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2012-12-18/pdf/2012-30117.pdf
  2. and more information can be found at: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/florida_coastal.cfm

EPA will hold three webinars to provide opportunities for the public to learn more about its proposed rules and submit both written and oral comments. The webinars will be held on the following dates and times:
  • Tuesday, January 22, 2013 from 10 am to Noon;
  • Wednesday, January 23, 2013 from 6 to 8 pm; and
  • Thursday, January 24, 2013 from 2 to 4 pm.

Webinar registration is available at: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/florida_index.cfm.
EPA will also hold information sessions for the public to learn more about its proposed rules and submit written comments. While verbal comments will not be taken/recorded, EPA representatives will be available to help attendees submit their written comments electronically. The sessions will have an "open house" format, and will be held in Tampa at the Hotel Tampa (formerly the Hyatt Regency Tampa), at 211 North Tampa Street, on the following dates and times:
  • Thursday, January 17, 2013 from 1 to 7 pm; and
  • Friday, January 18, 2013 from 9 am to 1 pm

If you need a sign language interpreter or other assistance at either of the public information sessions, please contact Beth LeaMond at 202-566-0444 or leamond.beth@epa.gov at least five business days prior to the session you want to attend so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

If you are unable to participate in any of the information sessions or webinars, or prefer to submit your comments in writing, please use one of the four methods identified below:
  1. www.regulations.gov: Follow the on-line instructions for submitting comments.
  2. Email: ow-docket@epa.gov
  3. Mail to: Water Docket, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Mail code: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20460.
  4. Hand Delivery: EPA Docket Center, EPA West Room 3334, 1301 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20004. Such deliveries are only accepted during the Docket's normal hours of operation, and special arrangements should be made for deliveries of boxed information.

When submitting written comments, be sure to identify which rule your comments pertain to:
  • Inland Remand Rule Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2009-0596; or
  • Coastal Rule Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2010-0222

Both rules were published in the Federal Register on December 18, 2012. Comments on the Inland Remand Rule must be received on or before February 1, 2013; while comments on the Coastal Rule must be received on or before February 19, 2013.

EPA must finalize the Inland Remand Rule by August 31, 2013 and the Coastal Rule by September 30, 2013. However, the Agency is prepared to either not move forward with-or withdraw-federal rules for any waters that become covered by state law that meets the requirements of the Clean Water Act.