January 20, 2015

TMDLs and BMAPs - what the heck ?

By Linda Young, Executive Director - Florida Clean Water Network

Speaking of pollution and shell games.  The Florida DEP has become the national expert in making sure that big polluters are never held accountable for their pollution and that the Clean Water Act is never implemented or enforced in Florida.  If you live in Florida, then you live near a polluted water body of some kind, whether it is a spring, lake, river, sound, estuary or coastal waters.  Many of you have been actively involved in trying to work within
DEP's scheme designed to circumvent section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act which basically says these polluted waters must be identified and then cleaned up.
Over the past 16 years or so in Florida a series of steps have unfolded through the regulatory process, driven by large polluters such as pulp and paper, phosphate, agriculture, electric power companies, etc. to assure that citizens have no voice in decisions about their waters and that these big polluters are never required to reduce or stop their pollution. They demand assurance that they will never be held accountable for the damage they have done and continue to cause.  Here is a short synopsis of what these steps are and how they have created a trap for any possible enforcement of section 303(d) of the Clean Water Act:

1 - First there is clearly a pattern across the state of doing as few TMDLs as possible by keeping polluted waters off of the 303(d) list; 
2 - then for the waters that do make the list, DEP adopts TMDLs that are based on biased or faulty data;
3 - then eventually (usually late) DEP will develop a BMAP that is hideously inadequate to result in any improvements and usually require very little action by pollution sources; 
4 - then by changing water quality criteria for numerous parameters such as nutrients, dissolved oxygen, and others they can go back and revise the TMDLs  to either weaken the previous TMDL or eliminate them all together.  
5 - Now they are developing the "pollution credit trading" rule which uses much of the voodoo from items 1 - 4 as a basis and then makes it possible for polluters to make money on their pollution.

In short - don't step in DEP's/polluters trap.  Working within this system is largely a waste of time.  We need to expose it for what it is and find other ways to deal with pollution.  Most likely, working with your local governments is the best way.  Lee County is a good example of citizens and local governments working together to overcome pollution that is being aided and abetted by our government.  Educate your friends and neighbors and work locally.  Eventually better people will get elected into office and sanity will be restored.
Right now the inmates have taken over the asylum and they are going crazy. With the re-election of Rick Scott, the polluters are foaming at the mouth over his talk of more deregulation.  There will be no limit on what they will try to do.  I'm not trying to depress anyone - just be ready for what may come and be thinking of a way to keep pushing your goals forward.  We will eventually prevail.

Linda Young, Executive Director - Florida Clean Water Network
P.O. Box 5124, Navarre, FL 32566    Tel.: 850.322.7978