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DEP's Numeric Nutrient Criteria Water Rules Pass House Committee

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection got another step closer Monday to being allowed to implement the states own science-based rules for numeric nutrient criteria (NNC) in Floridas waterways.

HB 7115 was voted favorably by the House Rulemaking Oversight and Repeal Subcommittee, which means Florida is on track to be the first state in the nation to implement statewide nutrient standards for its waterways.

The bill stems from a decade of work by DEP to develop NNCs for Florida. In 2003, DEP created a technical advisory committee to begin analyzing biological conditions in Floridas waters.

But, the committees work was cut short when environmentalists sued in federal court over the process, and EPA took over the rule making. State leaders spent years fighting against EPAs standards.

Rep. Jake Raburn, the bills sponsor, said EPA used a broad-spectrum system to assign nutrient limits. Thats the wrong approach. Florida is ahead of the federal agency, because state scientists understand that not all water bodies are the same, and therefore they develop site-specific criteria.

Raburn said his bill will save Florida hundreds of millions of dollars by using sound science to develop the water standards.

EPA accepted DEPs rules in November. The bill grants DEP the authority to implement its standards for streams, springs, lakes, and estuaries as outlined in its "Implementation of Florida's Numeric Nutrient Standards" document.

A no vote means we dont care about science and whats best for Florida, Raburn told committee members.

Florida already has more nutrient rules on its waterways than any other state in the nation. In fact, 22 states have no rules on any water bodies.

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