In case you missed it, Neil Armingeon, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, wrote the following letter to the Times-Union in response to a recent article regarding the numeric nutrient standards issue.

Reply: St. Johns River: A draft report has been misused
The Florida Times-Union, February 3, 2011

I appreciate The Times-Union's attempt to provide ongoing coverage of the numeric nutrient standards issue, but I am disappointed by a recent news story regarding the development of these important protective standards.

Unfortunately, the article cites a draft report that clearly states at the top of each page, "Science Advisory Board Panel Discussion Draft – Do not Cite or Quote."

This draft is a work in progress. It does not reflect consensus advice or recommendations, has not been approved and does not represent EPA policy.

The draft report is only intended as an initial step in the long and rigorous process to carefully develop scientifically sound standards to reduce nutrient pollution in Florida's estuarine waters.

The news story should have never included quotes from the report, giving the false impression that the deadlines for developing the standards are unrealistic.

In fact, deadlines were actually extended for estuarine waters to ensure standards will be scientifically valid.

The misleading headline and story only serves to further confuse the public about this important issue. Elected officials, industry groups and special interests are busy spreading misinformation about the standards.

Opposing cleaning up Florida's waterways has become a cottage industry for public relations firms, attorneys and consultants. These groups continue to make erroneous claims that Florida is being singled out and that pollution reduction plans are unnecessary and cost-prohibitive.

Seven of the 24 states with estuaries have already adopted numeric nutrient criteria. Nineteen states have adopted numeric standards for some or all of their lakes and reservoirs, and 14 states have done so for some or all of their rivers and streams.

The Environmental Protection Agency has called on states to develop numeric nutrient standards since 1998.

The EPA stepped in because the Florida Department of Environmental Protection failed to adequately address our state's significant nutrient pollution problem, and it did not follow through with its obligations.

Based on the massive algal blooms that regularly occur in the St. Johns River and other waterways throughout the state, it shouldn't be too hard to see that current programs are lacking and something has to be done to address this serious problem.

The bottom line is that the numeric standards are necessary, long overdue and are being developed with a valid process that provides adequate time to ensure scientific accuracy.

St. Johns Riverkeeper