WASHINGTON (CN) – The Environmental Protection Agency will propose numerical, rather than narrative, standards to define acceptable nutrient levels in Florida water, as part of a 2009 consent decree with the Florida Wildlife Federation.
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 nutrients persist in the water.
Florida cooperated with the EPA to collect more than 800,000 nutrient-related water samples and interpret 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 cannot survive. The blooms are made of toxic microbes, which may cause death and damage the nervous system. The blooms also form byproducts that have been linked to bladder cancer.