Florida agriculture is opposed to the EPA's approach to regulation of water quality. Below is a comment submitted by the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association about their objections to the EPA's approach towards regulation of water quality standards.

Comment submitted by Kerry Kates, Director of Water & Natural Resources, Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA)
Document ID:

EPA-HQ-OW-2009-0596-2487
This is comment on PROPOSED RULE: Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida's Lakes and Flowing

September 1, 2010
EPA Docket Center
EPA West Room 3334
1301 Constitution Avenue, NW.
Washington, DC 20004
Attention: Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2009-0596


RE: Comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2009-0596
August 3, 2010 Supplemental Notice of Data Availability

Dear Sir or Madam:

The following comments are being provided by the Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association (FFVA) on behalf of its agricultural grower and producer members. FFVA is a non-profit, agricultural trade organization whose mission is to enhance the competitive and business environment for producing and marketing fruits, vegetables and other crops. This organization prides itself by having a membership that is environmentally aware, responsible and proactive.

For years, our agricultural members have been working closely with our state’s government agencies in a collaborative effort to prevent surface and groundwater degradation by designing and implementing best management practices aimed at reducing and removing nutrients from surface water runoff and discharge. As documented in our original response comments to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding their numeric nutrient standards for the state of Florida, submitted on April 26, 2010, this organization and its
membership are opposed to the Agency’s proposed criteria and associated methodologies. FFVA is appreciative of the EPA for the opportunity to comment on its Supplemental Notice of Data Availability (NODA) regarding its Water Quality Standards for the State of Florida’s Lakes and Flowing Waters, published in the Federal Register on August 3, 2010.

The following comments reflect FFVA’s continued opposition to the EPA’s proposed numeric nutrient criteria.


Stream Regionalization and Alternative Approaches to Stream Criteria Derivation
It is commendable that the Agency has attempted, albeit poorly, to broaden its regionalization of streams to more accurately account for and incorporate into its proposed criteria the natural presence and variability of nitrogen and phosphorus throughout the state of Florida.

The primary approach, however, still utilizes a broad brush, generalized approach which invariably ignores the extreme diversity of the state’s myriad and extensive network of fresh waters and aquatic ecosystems and continues to rely on a methodology which does not include the use of biological  indicators as a means to identify and measure nutrient-induced cause and effect relationships.

 Additionally, there appear to be no definable reasons as to why the Agency is proposing to delineate its proposed stream total nitrogen (TN) criteria within the same proposed, revised Panhandle region it has developed for total phosphorus (TP) criteria, aside from the simple act of trying to remain “consistent.” Regarding the proposed bench mark distribution using both the 75th and 90th percentile values, it would appear that the West Central Region is being assigned the 75th percentile based solely on the fact that less data was available. This approach, at best, seems arbitrary and capricious, reinforcing the need for a sound, scientific approach based on cause and effect relationships.

The fact that the EPA defaulted to a percentile distribution due to lack of available data only
reflects the hurried nature of this criteria, reminding us that these rules are not being formulated and driven by defensible science, but instead by the schedule of a mandated consent decree. Downstream Protection of Lakes
The BATHTUB model appears to be an improvement from the limited Vollenweider model due to its inclusion and utilization of more input variables.

It appears, however, that this model does not take into account groundwater interaction and its influence on lakes. Additionally, regardless of which model is used, the EPA has still not addressed or has chosen to ignore the naturally occurring nitrogen which forms upstream in headwaters and wetlands, ultimately finding its way downstream into lakes.

Conclusion
The EPA’s proposed numeric nutrient criteria remains riddled with questionable science and still fail to recognize the immense diversity among the state’s lakes and flowing waters. To attempt promulgation of non-site specific, statewide nutrient criteria not based on biological cause and effect relationships is haphazard, irresponsible and potentially ecologically harmful. Development of comprehensive criteria on this scale requires adequate time for research, data collection and analysis; it should be driven by sound science and not litigation. Additionally, as with the upcoming coastal and estuarine criteria, the freshwater numeric nutrient criteria
component should be peer reviewed by an independent science body. FFVA remains opposed to the EPA’s proposed rulemaking and requests that the Agency concedes development of numeric nutrient criteria to the state of Florida.

Sincerely,

Florida Fruit & Vegetable Association
Kerry B. Kates, P.E.
Director of Water and Natural Resources