Friday, February 19, 2010

EPA Plans For Stiffer Regulations Regarding Florida's Bodies Of Water

An article in the February 18ths edition of the Orlando Sentinel by Kevin Spear, regarding stiffer federal oversight of pollution limits for various bodies of water, had given me a couple thoughts. The article essentially states that the Environmental Protection Agency plans to use Florida's extensive database on water bodies to create a categorical system. Florida's current system basically acts on a case by case basis but State authorities have openly admitted that the current system is not only slow, but ineffective in combating the declining water quality. The new Federal system would establish essentially use the data collected by the state to determine acceptable pollution limits, and presumably, a course of action to be taken to improve quality, which may include the requirement to build run-off ponds or the reduction of use of fertilizers. According to Rusty Wiygul, director of grower affairs for Florida Citrus Mutual, the new stricter regulations have the potential to regulate Florida farmers out of business. James Payne, who represents the Deseret Ranch, which spans three counties pondered "how much regulation a cow can carry on her back." The Environmental Protection Agency plans on using Florida as a test for future regulations and protesters are plenty, ranging from industry leaders to limited government tea party adherents.

The main concern from industry would be that new regulations would put Florida businesses at a competitive disadvantage when competing with foreign farmers while states' rights proponents believe it should be the responsibility of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to improve water quality. Lynne Grace of Space Coast Patriots, a tea party group, had stated that the federal government has no business meddling with Florida's bodies of water. The reason behind the EPA's increased involvement stems from a lawsuit from Earthjustice, an environmental defense firm, among other other groups, that sued the EPA alleging "failures to uphold federal water-quality laws in Florida."

If you ask me, I would have to side with the environmentalists on this matter. While you have complaints from the industry who dislike potential future regulation only because they will have to spend additional money to ensure Florida's ecosystem is protected from their actions, and other complaints believing the federal government has no right to intervene, their arguments are without merit. The state government has been ineffective in achieving increased water quality goals, and had taken an approach that has done nothing more then collect useful data. With the failure to meet federal standards, Florida will now have to relinquish management to the EPA, which will hopefully perform better. I laugh at the notion that this is a matter that must be solved by Florida and Florida only. Teabaggers have essentially latched onto this issue because it involves federal intervention, which according to the various tea party organizations, is un-American. Florida is part of the union, and considering Florida shares some bodies of water with it's neighboring states, Alabama and Georgia, it would be my understanding that this matter would be interstate in nature, even if it focuses on purely intrastate waterways, placing it under the jurisdiction of the federal government. 

If Florida should be responsible for it's lakes and rivers with no consideration for the rest of the nation, then maybe Florida, or any state, take on the responsibility off delivering intrastate mail...


  1. Please note that the "interstate" waters you speak of flow from Georgia and Alabama into Florida. So, under this federal takeover of Florida water policy, Florida will have a stricter water quality standard than those in place in Alabama and Georgia. That means Florida taxpayers will pay to clean up the water that flows into the state from Alabama and Georgia. Florida is the only state singled out by the EPA for this kind of action -- an action that wastewater treatment facilities say will cost rate payers $50 billion. Please give us your plan/idea on how to pay $50 billion more to upgrade the water treatment facilities in Florida?

  2. I understand that the water from the northern states flow into Florida, so while Florida will share the burden now, the stricter EPA regulations will hopefully pave the way for a universal system to be used nationwide. The three states have always had water usage issues and I don't foresee any agreement on policy in the near future.

    As for paying for the $50+ billion needed to upgrade the water treatment facilities, I believe a simple increase in the cost of water should be enacted, over a certain amount of course. The price of water is way under market value and an increase will help pay for future upgrades and maintenance, as well as curb excessive water usage.

    Every year there are always drought conditions and water conservation notices where watering must take place on certain days. Every year I witness hundreds of homeowners either violating the ordinances by watering on the wrong day or when it is their day, they over water.

    Many Floridians desire nice green lawns, but do not understand the impacts of their actions. St. Augustine grass is very popular but is not very drought tolerant, and so an extreme amount of water as well as fertilizers are required. For a couple hundred bucks, my home was converted to Bahia grass, and my yard has maintained it's hue all year long. Another problem with this is the requirement by many homeowners associations in Florida that cite property owners for having sub par yards or requiring St. Augustine grass, forcing homeowners into using obscene amounts of water.


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