Dear Friends of Florida’s waters:

This is just a quick update on where we are with the Triennial Review and its proposed changes to Florida’s water quality standards.

HUMAN HEALTH-BASED TOXICS CRITERIA – On Tuesday, February12th,  at 3 pm (eastern) DEP finally posted the Technical Support Document (TSD) for this major change to Florida’s water protections.  The comment period ends at midnight.  HaHa!!! No, actually I’m not kidding.  DEP changed their proposed criteria again and shared it with the public last Tuesday, Feb 5th at a public workshop.  They are changing the limits for most carcinogenic chemicals to be much less stringent, something that DEP does not try to deny.  The technical information on how they derive their calculations was not available until this afternoon and the comments are due by midnight.

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO SENT DEP AN EMAIL TO COMPLAIN ABOUT THE INADEQUATE COMMENT PERIOD!!!

In short, what DEP is doing (at the behest of polluters no doubt) is changing the way they compute the pollution limits.  EPA and all other states use a formula that is fairly easy to understand.  It considers body weight, fish consumption, toxicity of the chemical, risk-level, etc and comes up with a set limit on how much of that chemical can be found in fish.  This is how DEP has always calculated these important numbers as well.  Now, DEP has come up with a very complex statistical method that no one can understand and can be easily manipulated to achieve whatever final numbers are desired.

As you might expect, DEP’s new proposed limits for carcinogenic chemicals are substantially less stringent than current limits and/or are less protective than EPA’s recommended limits (which are based on a much lower fish consumption rate than is used for Floridians).  In general the proposed limits are about 2 to 3 times higher than EPA’s recommendations.  If EPA’s recommendations were adjusted for Florida’s fish consumption levels, the DEP’s proposed limits would be 4 to 6 times less stringent than EPAs.  In other words, Florida DEP is only protecting polluters and cares nothing about the people of this state.

Our attorney is submitting initial comments and will submit more detailed comments when he’s had time to review the TSD.  They will be posted here shortly.

In a few days I will ask you to start sending letters to the Governor about this.  Governor Rick Scott has the final say on whether or not Florida takes its water quality protections that affect human health (drinking water and fish we eat) to the very bottom of the barrel.  From my experience with the members of the Environmental Regulation Commission (ERC), they will take their marching orders from the Governor.  We will contact them later in the month.  DEP informed us today that the February ERC meeting has been cancelled and that DEP will give the ERC members private briefings on this issue.  The public will have no opportunity in February to speak at the ERC meeting, because there will not be one.  This issue will go before the ERC in March for a final vote.

PLEASE WATCH FOR AN ACTION ALERT IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS IN WHICH WE WILL START HOLDING RICK SCOTT ACCOUNTABLE FOR THIS RECKLESS DISREGARD FOR OUR HEALTH.

If the citizens of Florida are going to know about this, you will have to help spread the word.  Please share this with your family, friends, churches, neighbors, etc. and let them know that their drinking water and fish are at risk of getting a lot more polluted if we don’t stop this from happening.  I think it is possible with enough public pressure.

Thank you again for sending the emails to DEP  over the past few days and for all that you do for Florida’s waters!

Linda Young
Director
Clean Water Network of FL
850/3227978
floridacleanwaternetwork.org
P.O. Box 5124
Navarre, FL  32566


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.



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