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EPA and Florida Work on Water Quality

WASHINGTON (CN) - As part of a 2009 consent decree between the Environmental Protection Agency and the Florida Wildlife Federation, the agency proposes to implement numerical standards to define acceptable nutrient levels in the state's water.

Florida has been using narrative standards to define acceptable levels of nitrogen and phosphorus pollution based on the visible appearance of algae blooms that occur where excessive amounts of these nutrients persist in the water.

Florida has cooperated with the EPA in collecting over 800,000 nutrient-related water samples and in interpreting the resulting data to develop water quality standards.

The main cause of nutrient pollution is runoff from storms, municipal wastewater treatment plants and livestock operations.

Algae blooms block light and restrict available oxygen causing dead zones in which aquatic life can not survive. The blooms are made of toxic microbes, which may cause damage to the nervous system, and death. The blooms also form byproducts that have been linked to bladder cancer.

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