Less than a month ago, four of Florida’s top officials filed suit against the EPA over its proposed water quality rules, a strict set of standards that would govern the amount of waste in state waterways. Now, several Northwest Florida utilities are taking similar measures, filing a lawsuit in federal court in Pensacola alleging the standards aren’t based on good science and would require an extensive overhaul of treatment plants.

Okaloosa County, Destin Water Users, South Walton Utility Co., the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority, and Panama City are the five plaintiffs listed in the Dec. 16 lawsuit.

Several state governmental and utility agencies have cried foul over the EPA’s standards, part of which is slated to be established by August 2012. Many have argued that the criteria are too strict to be practically enforced, and would require a massive overhaul of utility plants and lead to hefty utility bills.

But environmentalists argue that current standards, which measure nutrients in loads, are inefficient, and that cost projections of the forthcoming criteria are massively overblown. In fact, an investigation into internal emails of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection revealed that many of the cost projections used to argue against the criteria were not only disputed within the department but were written, in part,  by those on the payroll of the affected utilities.

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