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SCCF succeeds in getting DEP to set state cyanobacteria standards

By Staff | Jun 28, 2019

On May 23, the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, Center for Biological Diversity and Calusa Waterkeeper submitted a petition to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to initiate rulemaking to adopt water quality criteria for cyanotoxins produced by blue-green algae.

On June 25, the SCCF received notice that the DEP granted the petition, which means that it will consider developing cyanotoxin criteria during this triennial review.

“We are very pleased that DEP has granted our petition,” SCCF Natural Resource Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel said, “and will consider adopting criteria for cyanotoxins as part of the current, triennial review rule development process, as our meetings with staff earlier in the year did not intend to include cyanotoxins. With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommended criteria for microcystins released on May 22, the day before this order was issued, the timing was perfect for the July 1 meeting of the Blue Green Algae task force to support evaluation under the current triennial review.”

SCCF and local stakeholders have been meeting with the DEP on water quality priorities in the triennial review process and highlighted the need for cyanotoxin standards to be included. This spring, the DEP indicated it did not intend to include cyanotoxin standards in the triennial review.

Following the devastating water conditions the region suffered last year. the SCCF joined the petition to the department, officials reported. The good news resulting from the decision is that the DEP will now consider rulemaking as part of the current triennial review. It is a timely action on the part of the department as the EPA has released its final recommendations.

The SCCF reported that it will stay engaged and share dates of upcoming public workshops on the DEPs triennial review expected later in the summer.