EPA's plan to set water-quality standards in Florida, a first

TALLAHASSEE _ In a move cheered by environmental groups, the federal government on Friday proposed stringent limits on ``nutrient'' pollution allowed to foul Florida's waterways.

The ruling -- which will cost industries and governments more than a billion dollars to comply -- marks the first time the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has intervened to set a state's water-quality standards.

``I'm thrilled,'' said Linda Young, director of the Clean Water Network, an advocacy group. ``It is something that will ultimately start restoring Florida's waters.''

The agency issued the proposed regulations after reaching a settlement in August with five environmental groups that sued the federal government in 2008 for not enforcing the Clean Water Act in Florida.

The caps on phosphorus and nitrogen levels in Florida's lakes, rivers, streams, springs and canals would replace the state's vague ``narrative'' approach to monitoring the effects of waste and fertilizer runoff, which the EPA deemed insufficient. The proposed rule includes provisions giving the EPA oversight authority to enforce the standards. Read this story on