Water Quality
August 02 2016

Florida Moves to Increase Carcinogens Allowed in Waters

by Holly Parker

On July 26th, the Environmental Regulations Commission voted to increase allowable levels of carcinogens and chemicals in Florida's drinking and recreational waters. The proposal by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection is supposed to set new water quality standards for human health to bring the state into compliance with the Clean Water Act. These limits are are intended protect aquatic life, drinking water and recreational waters- but the new proposal includes dramatic increases in allowable levels of more than two-dozen carcinogens and chemicals. That means a 45% increase in the allowable levels of Benzene, 80% increase in Heptachlor and 54% increase in Vinyl Chloride- to name just a few examples.

Additionally, the seven member Environmental Regulations Commission that voted on the proposal, is missing two members: the Local Government Representative (vacant since February 2016) and Environmental Community Representatives (vacant since July 2015). Of the five current members of the panel, two voted no- Joe Joyce, who represents the agriculture industry, and Adam Gelber who represents the science and technical seat on ERC. Three voted yes: Cari Roth- an attorney who represents development interests, Sarah Walton- a Pensacola attorney, and Craig Varn- an attorney and former general counsel for DEP. It's easy to see why the Governor has failed to fill the vacant seats for a year- if they were added, the vote would have almost certainly failed.

The proposal now heads to the EPA for final approval. Please take a moment to contact the EPA today, to request the following:

  1. Please hold multiple hearings and opportunities for public comment across Florida. The proposed revisions to Florida’s Human Health-Based Water Quality Criteria have far reaching impacts, and as such, are deserving of adequate forethought and deliberation.
  2. Please direct the FDEP to adopt the most stringent criteria for Florida's human health-based water quality criteria. It is unacceptable that Florida is increasing allowable levels of over two dozen chemicals.
  3. Please utilize Florida-specific seafood consumption data. Floridians eat large qualities of locally caught seafood- much more than the national average. Utilizing the best available data for fish consumption rates will help protect more Floridians.
  4. Email the EPA here: floridahhc@epa.gov

Click here to read the Surfrider Foundation's full comments to the FDEP and the ERC.

Click here to read a letter from Florida lawmakers to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy.