The State of Florida is the focal point of a national debate over the proper roles of federal and state governments in implementing the Clean Water Act (CWA). This debate is focused on EPA’s imposition of strict numeric criteria for Florida’s surface waters to curb nutrient pollution.
The CWA empowers the states with primary responsibility for establishing water quality standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) may promulgate its own standards but only when EPA determines that a new or revised standard is necessary (33 U.S.C. § 1313(c)(4)(B)). Such determinations are rare. Even EPA has noted that a determination is “symptomatic of something awry with the basic statutory scheme” (57 Fed. Reg. 60,848 (Dec. 22, 1992)).