Five environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, claiming the federal government is violating the Clean Water Act. Specifically, the suit focuses on Florida's waterways and contends that EPA is failing to set standards for farm and urban runoff.

The goal is to force EPA to implement standards for every state, "most of which have only vague limits on such pollution," said David Guest, Earthjustice attorney.

The federal lawsuit was filed in Tallahassee by the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida and the St. Johns Riverkeeper.

The contend that rain sends the runoff, including fertilizers and animal waste, into rivers and lakes, contaminating waterways and nourishing algae blooms.

EPA officials are reviewing the lawsuit, but point out states should develop their own guidelines."It's a priority for EPA to have states adopt science-based numeric standards to control nutrient pollution," EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin Grumbles told the Associated Press.

Florida's Department of Environmental Protection is working to set guidelines, which are complex because the agency hasn't determined exactly how much runoff can continue without harming ecosystems, said Dee Ann Miller, department spokesperson.

According to the lawsuit, EPA acknowledged 10 years ago that Florida needed to "promptly develop runoff standards to meet Clean Water Act requirements."

Congress enacted the Clean Water Act in 1972 "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the nation's waters."

Source: Associated Press