Description: Lawsuit seeking to compel EPA to reinitiate Endangered Species Act consultation on the effects of water quality standards/total maximum daily loads for the Indian River Lagoon on the Florida manatee and other species.
Save the Manatee Club v. EPA
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 05/10/2022 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Lawsuit Sought to Compel EPA to Reinitiate Consultation on Indian River Lagoon Water Quality Standards to Assess Effects on Florida Manatee and Other Species. Three conservation groups filed a lawsuit in the federal district court for the Middle District of Florida alleging that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) violated the Endangered Species Act by failing to reinitiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service on the effects of water quality standards/total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) for the Indian River Lagoon on the Florida manatee, green and loggerhead sea turtles, and smalltooth sawfish. The plaintiffs alleged that the Lagoon was “currently suffering ecologic collapse,” with more than thousand manatees dying in Florida in 2021, and that the “[t]he root of the problem is deteriorating water quality” due to excess nitrogen and phosphorus pollution. The complaint said EPA approved Florida’s 2009 TMDLs as water quality standards for the Lagoon in 2013 and refused a 2021 request by the FWS to reinitiate consultation based on new information about algal outbreaks killing seagrass and resulting in the starvation of manatees. The plaintiffs alleged that EPA was required to reinitiate consultation in response to new information about the connection between the pollution and the mass manatee die-off, as well as other new information, including information about lack of compliance with or enforcement of TMDLs and about the failure of TMDLs to account for the impacts of climate change.