On October 15, 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency will usher in a new era of water quality regulation for Florida’s lakes and flowing waters. Known as the Numeric Nutrient Criteria (“NNC”) rule, the final rule will establish specific numeric limitations on nitrogen and phosphorous concentrations in fresh water lakes and streams.
Before the implementation of this rule, Florida water quality rules were based on a narrative standard that used descriptive language to identify polluted bodies of water. The rule also creates restoration standards for water bodies that are designated as “impaired.” Impaired waters may be waters that are deemed to be polluted to the point where they no longer are suitable for their intended use. The new rule only applies to fresh water, however a similar NNC rule for coastal waters and estuaries is slated for consideration in 2011. These new water quality standards will have significant economic and operational effects on municipalities, agricultural operations, utilities, and future development.