On December 13 and 14, the Nutrient Criteria Review Panel of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB) held a meeting to review EPA's draft technical support document, Methods and Approaches for Deriving Numeric Criteria for Nitrogen/Phosphorus Pollution in Florida's Estuaries, Coastal Waters, and Southern Inland Flowing Waters. The overall goal of the numeric nutrient criteria is to translate Florida’s existing narrative nutrient criterion into numeric values. This public meeting included technical presentations, panel discussions, and public comments on the development of numeric nutrient criteria for Florida's estuarine and coastal waters, and southern canals.
During the opening session held on December 13, various technical aspects and public comments on the draft document were presented and discussed. Ephraim King, Director of the EPA Office of Water, Office of Science and Technology (OST), provided an introduction on the numeric nutrient criteria approach. The presentation included an overview of the EPA’s role in translating Florida’s existing narrative nutrient standard into measureable numeric values, background information on the Water Quality Standards of the Clean Water Act as the basis for the development of the numeric nutrient criteria, and a timeline for the completion of the numeric nutrient criteria rule. Furthermore, Tiffany Crawford, EPA Office of Water (OST), delivered a technical presentation titled “General Approach for Numeric Nutrient Criteria Development in Florida Waters.” The presentation detailed information on the proposed delineation of Florida waters, reviewed the conceptual model developed by EPA to characterize Florida’s narrative nutrient standard and described the general analytical approaches proposed for the numeric nutrient criteria.
Public comments on the draft document were presented by different speakers representing various organizations, agencies and academic institutions. The speakers highlighted key concerns including the oversimplification of estuarine ecosystems, the complexity of developing numeric nutrient values from existing Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) models, the need for stakeholder collaboration to develop accurate numeric nutrient values, and the lack of a clear definition from EPA to conclude when a ecosystem is healthy versus imbalanced.