My dear friends of Florida’s waters:
I am so pleased to let you know that we have won a major victory in our fight for Florida’s waters. Recently I wrote you and told about our day in federal court where our amazing attorney David Ludder gave oral arguments for our Motion for Summary Judgement in our Impaired Waters Rule case. He was amazing and so persuasive. I am not only proud of him, but so thankful that we have him to help us fight for better protection for the springs, lakes, streams, estuaries and coastal waters that we love so dearly.
On Friday, David received notice from the Federal District Court that we won. We had seven counts in our complaint and we won Counts I – V and lost on Counts VI and VII. The two counts that we lost on are unimportant. Count VI had no impact at all and Count VII relates to nutrients, which was a mute point anyway.
This is our fourth lawsuit over Florida’s Impaired Waters Rule (IWR) in the past 10 years. We have won 4/4 cases now and still the Florida DEP continues to help polluters find ways around the Clean Water Act. As I mentioned in my last weekly update, DEP has released a new list of Impaired Waters and waters that have been Delisted, which we are now reviewing. The state continues to use every way possible to take polluted waters off of the impaired waters list – 303(d) and to avoid setting pollution limits. In cases where they are required to adopt TMDLs (pollution limits) they consistently underestimate how much reduction there should be and always make participation in these reductions a voluntary thing. So, in short, this victory is not the end of our struggle. It is however a very, very significant step forward. I can’t tell you how excited and happy I am – VERY!!!
We are working hard right now with the Conservancy of SW Florida to write comments on DEP’s current lists. We have gotten an extension of time to file for a hearing. This is a daunting task and without the Conservancy’s commitment and technical support and expertise, it would not be possible. So, once again, they deserve a huge thank you from all of us for their work on this important issue. I will follow up soon with our comment letter for you to read and sign on to if your group or as businesses and/or individuals you want to sign on. Ultimately we will have to file suit against EPA if they approve the outrageous lists that DEP continues to submit. I’m hoping that EPA will adhere to the higher court’s command that waters be reviewed using the “effects” test. That means, if the water was polluted before the IWR was applied and nothing happened to clean it up, then the state can’t change the definition of what a polluted water is with the IWR and declare a polluted water to be clean. That is essentially what is happening.
If you would like to help us win this fight, now would be a great time to send your financial support. As you might imagine, these legal battles are expensive and if we don’t keep fighting for Clean Water Act protections for Florida’s waters, this effort will be dropped and the polluters will win. That is what they are hoping for. That we will get weary and give up. With your help we will keep going until we have finally won the protections that our waters deserve.
IF EVERY PERSON WHO RECEIVES THIS WONDERFUL NEWS WOULD SEND US $10 – JUST $10 – WE COULD FUND THIS WORK FOR AN ENTIRE YEAR!!!
We need your help now more than ever so please help us take this great victory to the last stretch. Any contribution, small or large will make a difference and you will forever know that when Florida’s waters were hanging in the balance, you put your money on the side of protection. Everyone who has already sent their membership this year, thank you so much. If you can chip in a little more, it will be so very appreciated.
Please send this email far and wide and help us share the good news.
For all of Florida’s waters and with a happy heart,
About the Author
Linda Young has been the executive director of the Clean Water Network of Florida since 1994. From 1989 to 1997, she founded and published a monthly statewide environmental newspaper. Over the past twenty three years, she has co-founded some of the most long-lasting and effective environmental organizations in the Southeast, including the Gulf Restoration Network, Gulf Coast Environmental Defense and C.A.T.E. She holds a B.A. in Communications from Southern Oregon University and a M.A. in Political Science/Campaign Management from the University of West Florida.