FLORIDA SPRINGS COUNCIL ASKS FOR U.S. EPA REVIEW OF SILVER SPRINGS BASIN MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dan Hilliard, Chair
Dr. Robert Knight, Executive Committee
December 8, 2015
GAINESVILLE, FL – In a letter to the Region IV Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Florida Springs Council has asked the EPA to review the Basin Management Action Plan recently adopted by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for Silver Springs and the Upper Silver River.
The Florida Springs Council—an alliance of 34 private and public organizations that represent more than 100,000 people—is concerned that the Basin Management Action Plan, or BMAP, does not meet requirements set forth in two sections of the federal Clean Water Act. The Council’s letter requests that the EPA “…exercise your full authority to require the State of Florida to follow the letter of the law with regards to this BMAP.” According to federal law, if a state is found in violation of the Clean Water Act, the EPA has the authority to withhold CWA grant funding or other federal assistance until the deficiencies are corrected.
The Council’s concerns about the Basin Management Action Plan include:
FDEP failed to achieve the 79 percent nitrate reduction requirement established by that agency in 2012 in the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) allowed for Silver Springs.
Based on FDEP’s calculations, there will be no more than a 6 percent reduction of the existing nitrogen load polluting Silver Springs and the Silver River with the BMAP. 2
FDEP failed to uphold a basic principle of TMDL implementation by emphasizing reliance on public utilities, instead of reliance on all polluters, to reduce nitrate pollution.
FDEP failed to hold agriculture and on-site treatment and disposal systems (such as septic tanks) accountable for their shares of nitrate pollution to the Silver Springs Basin.
FDEP failed to conduct a federally required anti-degradation review of non-point sources of pollution to the Silver Springs Basin.
FDEP failed to include annual milestones for implementation of voluntary agricultural Best Management Practices, or BMPs.
FDEP failed to identify feasible funding sources to implement its recommended pollution reduction strategies.
More details about each of these complaints are given in the attached copy of the Council’s letter to the EPA.
The Florida Springs Council has concluded that the final Silver Springs BMAP fails to achieve springs restoration, fails to meet federal statutory requirements, and fails to result in any significant reduction in nitrogen loadings in the Silver Springs Basin during the next five years.
The State of Florida’s failure to enforce federal and state water quality standards over the past 40 years has resulted in an environmental tragedy for Silver Springs, the largest and most revered spring system in the United States—a spring system that also holds an important place in the global history of science as the birthplace of systems ecology.
Motivated by the continuing failures by the State of Florida and its Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Springs Council has asked the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to take whatever steps are available to force FDEP to take action to ensure that targeted water quality standards for Silver Springs and the Upper Silver River will be achieved in a timely fashion.
Click HERE for PDF