Letters to the Editor

Florida’s new water quality rules will aid environment

In response to the Herald’s Nov. 10 editorial, “EPA folds to political pressure on water quality.”

Florida is home to the best water resources in the nation, and DEP works tirelessly to protect them from nutrient pollution. We recently moved forward with standards that will improve the health of Florida’s lakes, rivers, streams, springs and estuaries.

These standards, when adopted, will be the most comprehensive in the nation. They provide a clear process for identifying waters impaired by nutrients, preventing harmful discharges and establishing necessary reductions.

They benefit the environment and all Floridians, and it is unfair to characterize them as weak or full of loopholes.

In the Bradenton region, like much of Florida, a majority of the nutrient loading is not due to industry, but comes from individual households. Every one of us leaves a nutrient footprint, and these rules address that issue efficiently and effectively.

Our rules provide a reasonable and predictable implementation strategy, avoiding unnecessary costs on Florida’s households and businesses. By focusing on the individual needs of a waterbody, upholding established restoration efforts and eliminating procedures that do not add environmental value, these rules allow us to focus public dollars where they are most needed.

Florida is committed to improving the health of our waterways, and we lead the nation in research, knowledge and action. These rules allow us to build on restoration efforts already in place to reduce and treat nutrients in valuable estuaries in your area.

These rules were not created in a vacuum. DEP developed them using input, feedback and cooperation from our federal partners and Florida’s stakeholders. We have the support of the Tampa Bay, Sarasota Bay and Charlotte Harbor Estuaries Programs and Sarasota and Manatee counties to move forward.

Adopting these rules is the right thing for Florida.

Drew Bartlett, Director, Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration, DEP Tallahassee