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New Florida Study Heats Up Water War With Feds

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed water standards for Florida will cost the state more than $1 billion -- nearly 30 times the EPA's estimates -- according to a new study.

Researchers from the University of Florida and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services said that the numeric water nutrient standards would create "significant ripple effects on suppliers and employees."

The study predicted that "more than 14,000 jobs will be lost."

While the EPA has projected a $35 million price tag, state researchers said the final costs will depend on "how many agriculture acres are actually impacted and how the standards are implemented."

EPA has estimated that about 6 million acres of agricultural and forest lands surrounding water bodies will be affected, but the study indicates the number is more than 13 1/2 million impacted acres.

The study says EPA's numbers are skewed because the agency has assumed that numeric water quality standards developed by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection are already in place and the infrastructure necessary to meet the standards has been paid for and is also in place. However, that is not the case.

DEP put the development of numeric nutrient standards on hold when the EPA settled a lawsuit filed by environmental groups by agreeing to establish federal standards.

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