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Water-Related News

EPA proposes revising certain water quality standards for Florida’s waters

ATLANTA – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a proposed rule to establish new and revised federal water quality standards (WQS) for the state of Florida based on the latest scientific knowledge about protecting human health.

“EPA continues to take strong action to ensure that our nation’s waters are safe for all,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “This proposed rule, if finalized, would update water quality standards for Florida’s water bodies to reflect the current science and continue to protect the health of Floridians.”

Under the Clean Water Act, state governments, or EPA, when necessary, set limits (called “human health criteria”) for pollutants in water bodies that pose risks to human health through the consumption of drinking water or locally caught fish and shellfish. EPA is proposing new or revised criteria for a total of 73 priority toxic pollutants.

On December 1, 2022, EPA issued an Administrator’s Determination that Florida’s current standards – last updated in 1992 – do not reflect the latest science or the current habits of Floridians. Since 1992, national and regional data have become available that indicate greater levels of fish consumption, particularly among residents of coastal states like Florida. In addition, Florida does not have human health criteria for 37 pollutants that are likely to be in its waters. New data have become available since 1992 on the specific toxic pollutants that are likely to be present in Florida’s waters, and how those pollutants may impact Florida’s designated uses. EPA’s proposed rule accounts for more recent evidence on fish consumption rates and, as a result, proposes criteria that are more protective of Floridians that consume fish caught in the state.

In addition, EPA’s rule proposes criteria to protect subsistence fishers in and around Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve where Tribes hold reserved rights to fish for subsistence.

The Agency will accept comments on this proposal for 60 days upon publication in the Federal Register. EPA will also hold two online public hearings on this proposal. Learn more about the proposed rule and public hearings.