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DER Announces New Chemical Regulations for Water Quality

Groundwater Quality and TestingRecently, the Department of Environmental Regulation hailed the passing of the new water quality rule by a 3-2 vote from the Environmental Regulation Commission. The new rule will initiate new limitations on 39 toxins and update the currently allowed limitations on 43 other chemicals that are currently being dumped into the rivers and coastal waters of Florida. According to the Department of Environmental Regulation, “Each and every criterion protects Floridians, according to both EPA and the World Health Organization.” But this isn’t necessarily the case, claim some environmentalists.

Opposition to the new drinking quality rule

Some environmentalists have vigorously opposed the new rule, claiming that the updated limitations on chemicals may disrupt the natural hormonal balance of those who consume the water, thanks to the potential for higher levels of carcinogens and other chemicals to be dumped in the water. The Florida Clean Water Network is one group that tried to stop the rule from passing. According to its executive director, Linda Young, “That policy now says that more Floridians are expendable to cancer and other serious health diseases in order for industries to be more profitable.”

The environmental group further claims that the Department of Environmental Protection already fails to protect the drinking water of Floridians because of its reportedly weak enforcement efforts. Environmentalists are anticipating that even more clean-up will be needed once the new rule takes effect.

A closer look at the new regulations

Florida’s water quality standards hadn’t been updated since 1992. The new rule is angering environmentalists because it allows at least 10 chemicals to be discharged into Class I water bodies at higher rates than are currently allowed by state standards. These chemicals include benzene, beryllium, trichloroethane, and dichlorotheylene, along with at least six other chemicals that are common byproducts of industries such as pulp and paper producers, wastewater treatment plants, agricultural facilities, oil and gas drilling companies, dry cleaners, and electricity plants.

Currently, Florida allows 1.18 micrograms of benzene per liter in Class I water bodies. Once the new rule takes effect, that threshold will become 2 micrograms per liter. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that tap water contain zero benzene, but allows a maximum of 0.005 micrograms per liter. However, DEP has taken this a step further to set a safe standard at 0.001 micrograms per liter in drinking water to reduce the risk of cancer and other serious health problems. Since, of course, the new rules will allow far greater discharge than what is allowed in drinking water, this means that the burden of scrubbing the drinking water falls to water companies.

Regardless of the controversial nature of the new drinking water quality regulations, it is clear that industries around the state must rapidly implement new protocols to stay in compliance with the new rules. And of course, it’s impossible to be in full compliance unless a company has an accurate understanding of its current environmental situation.

Keep your business in compliance

For more than 40 years, Phoslab Environmental Services has earned its reputation for providing excellent customer service above and beyond what is expected. Our highly qualified chemists, biologists, and geologists offer comprehensive environmental testing and consulting services for several business sectors throughout greater central Florida, including pharmaceutical, industrial, environmental, agricultural, and developmental. We are certified and accredited by the State of Florida Department of Health and approved by the State Surgeon General. To request a free quote for our services, call (863) 576-5158 or fill out the contact form on our website.


  1. Tampa Bay Times, Florida drinking water regs raise questions about toxins, testing and private wells,
  2. Miami Herald, Do new rules make Florida water safer or more toxic? It’s debatable,