Water Quality and BMPs

In case you have been working too hard to sell your plants you may have missed all the commotion about our water quality. There are fertilizer ordinances being proposed and passed for homeowners to reduce the amount of nitrogen and phosphorus (N and P) that is leaching and running off their lawns and finding its way into our local waters. As part of this clean up of water quality, the EPA and the FL DEP are jostling to see just who will mandate and what levels are considered the limit for bad water quality in the state of Florida. This is to insure that our impaired waters are brought back to a clean, manageable level.

If you have not yet signed up to follow the BMP's (Best Management Practices) for container nurseries you really should. This gives the grower the right to be considered to be compliant with water quality standards with water leaving the farm. If you don't sign on to the BMP's you may be required in the future to prove that you are not causing adverse effects from your operation. The BMP's are a way for our industry to govern ourselves without an external governing agency doing that for us.

In the continuing saga of these regulations, here is the latest update from Ornamental Outlook:

The EPA is working on new regulations that would set surface water pollution standards for Florida. Capital costs to help abide by the proposed standards could prove devastating for Florida’s economy, especially for those in the agricultural sector. The deadline for setting the new standards is closing in

Industry organizations are going all out to stop the regulation that could go into effect as early as October 2010.
The Florida Nursery, Growers & Landscape Association (FNGLA) and other agricultural groups have teamed up with business interests to form the Florida Water Quality Coalition. The coalition is taking proactive steps in helping stop this regulation including:
Consulting with legal counsel to challenge EPA's entire process in the courts
Working with specific interests to mount a highly prolific grassroots and public relations campaign
Collaborating with Florida's Congressional delegation to develop targeted legislative solutions to remedy this situation
The FNGLA and the coalition are asking all of its members, all of those in the Florida nursery and landscape industry, and even concerned citizens to contact their Members of Congress with the following message: EPA must reconsider and withdraw its decision requiring only Florida to adopt the numeric nutrient standards by the Jan. 14, 2010 deadline.
Go to
http://donttaxflorida.com/ to learn more about this important issue.

Growers should stay up to date on this issue and should get on board with the BMP's.

Here's what Dr. Tom Yeager of UF/IFAS has to say about the BMP's:

As provided for by statutory rule, BMPs for container nursery crops will provide a waiver of
state-imposed liability for cleaning up contaminated surface or ground water provided the
owner or nursery operator has done the following:

• Filed a notice of intent with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS)
• Implemented and carried out the appropriate BMPs
• Maintained the necessary records of using BMPs.
The waiver is provided on the premise that a nursery operator is using the best production
practices. Therefore, water leaving the nursery property is presumed to meet state water-quality
standards and will not impair the natural waters of the state.
Additional benefits of using BMPs include:
• Protection from duplicate regulations at the local level
• Eligibility for USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service and possibly other cost-share
funds for retrofitting or implementing water-conserving irrigation systems
• Improved production efficiency and possibly reduced production costs
• A demonstration that the nursery industry can exercise its ability to determine what are the
“best” cultural practices and voluntarily use these practices rather than be confronted with
mandatory regulations.

Here is a link to the BMP manual for container nurseries.

If you would like to see what money is available to you after you sign up with the BMP's please refer to my previous posts under the label GRANTS.

If you would like more information please call me at the Extension office 813-744-5519 ext.147. Or you can call Jemy Hinton at 813-478-6630.

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