The state of Florida must give more efforts to reduce nitrate pollution in Florida’s freshwater springs

TALLAHASSEE, Florida — Environmentalists who are trying to get rid of nitrate pollution in Florida’s freshwater springs declared victory on Wednesday after the First District Court of Appeal said the Florida Department of Environmental Protection must do more to clean the springs across the state.

The head of the Florida Springs Council, Ryan Smart, said, “This is the biggest legal win for Florida’s environment in recent memory.” “This choice will have a big effect on Outstanding Florida Springs.”

The ruling from Wednesday says that DEP must be more clear in its Basin Management Action Plans, or BMAPs, about how it will reduce nitrate pollution in some of the state’s springs and waterways. One of the biggest threats to the state’s freshwater springs right now is pollution from nitrates.

“What the First DCA decided was that the Department of Environmental Protection did not follow the law when it made the Basin Management Action plans for four Outstanding Florida Springs,” said Smart. “The law requires them to allocate the pollutant load,” which is a fancy way of saying that they have to say who is responsible for making the reductions needed to reach the water quality goal.

The legal battle with FDEP started in 2019 when environmental groups sued the agency over its BMAP plans, saying they didn’t work. However, a judge ruled in DEP’s favor.

The previous decision was overturned by Wednesday’s decision.

Smart said, “This gives us a way to hold polluters accountable.”

The DEP has said that its BMAPs work. 10 Investigates has asked FDEP for their thoughts on this decision, and they are still waiting to hear back. A representative had told us before:

“The state of Florida has made an unprecedented financial commitment to springs restoration, funding $300 million over the last four years specifically for springs restoration. This record funding has enabled the department to assist local governments and other stakeholders to identify and construct projects that are imperative to achieving restoration goals. Much has been done to date; however, there is more work to be done for springs restoration and long-term protection, particularly with agricultural Best Management Practices (BMPs). The department will continue to work diligently alongside the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services to increase BMP compliance and enhance our understanding of application rates across the state and impacts to waterways.”

Alfred Duncan

Alfred Duncan is a senior editor at The South Florida Daily, where he oversees our coverage of politics, misinformation, health and economics. Alfred is a former reporter and editor for BuzzFeed News, National Geographic and USA Today.

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