News Feature | September 23, 2016

Fight Over Florida Water Regs Enters New Round

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Clean water activists in Florida hit a snag this month in their legal effort to prevent the state from raising its limits on certain toxic chemical in drinking water.

An administrative law judge dismissed the activists’ complaints due to a failure to meet a deadline, according to the Miami Herald. The groups contesting the rule include the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the city of Miami, Martin County and the Florida Pulp and Paper Association. They argued that “Florida rushed through new, complex criteria,” according to the USA Today Network.

They have the opportunity to appeal. “The Seminole Tribe was the first to file the challenge to the new Human Health Toxics Criteria Rule, which allows for dozens of toxins, including carcinogens, to be allowed in greater concentrations into Florida’s rivers and streams,” the Herald reported.

The tribe argued that the regulation would harm tribe members “because it fails to protect human consumption at subsistence level for those who exercise their traditional fishing, hunting, trapping and frogging rights. The challengers also argued that [the state’s] public notices were written in ways to obfuscate the consequences of the new water toxin criteria,” the USA Today Network reported.

Florida regulators approved a new rule this year imposing “new standards on 39 chemicals not currently regulated by the state, and revise the regulations on 43 other toxins, most of which are carcinogens,” the Herald previously reported.

The federal Clean Water Act requires that states periodically review their standards, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Florida had not updated this set of water standards since 1992. State regulators say that the review process was thorough and fair, and will fortify Florida’s water-quality codes.

“[The state and federal government] are strengthening Florida's water quality standards, not weakening them. Moving forward with the proposed criteria is critical to better protect Floridians’ health because the criteria nearly doubles the number of chemicals that the department will be able to regulate. The proposed rule sets stringent and protective criteria for 39 chemicals that currently have no limits,” the agency said.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.