New Water Classifications May Benefit Polluters

<p>The Florida State Department of Environmental Protection is moving forward with plans to reclassify many of its waters based on their potential harm to humans. Some say the reclassifications open the door for corporate and agricultural polluters.</p>
April 9, 2007, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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"Recreational waters would be divided into three 'Human Use' categories with escalating degrees of risk."

"The DEP says an HU-4 waterway would be considered 'splashable' -- meaning a splash or two won't be toxic. Waterways rated HU-5 would be considered 'boatable,' though unswimmable and unfishable. No human contact would be advised."

"Rather than requiring paper mills, phosphate mines and ranches to clean up their effluent, the DEP has devised a ranking system that could forever surrender some of the most damaged rivers, lakes and canals to those who are using them as a sewer."

"Critics such as Linda Young of the Clean Water Network say the proposed Human Use categories could be a gift to polluters, allowing them to continue poisoning waterways at levels hazardous to fish, wildlife and humans."

"Instead of cleaning a polluted river to make it safe for all swimming and fishing -- as the rules now putatively require -- heavy industry and agriculture will be able to lobby for the more lenient 'splashable' or 'boatable' rating."

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Published on Sunday, April 1, 2007 in The Miami Herald
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