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Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says Floridians should enjoy a "victory lap" on the issue of federal water quality, but an attorney representing environmental groups suggests the state has nothing to celebrate.

U.S. District Judge Robert H. Hinkle on Tuesday is scheduled to consider a request by environmental groups asking him to enforce a 2009 court agreement requiring the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to set phosphorus and nitrogen limits in Florida waterways.

Environmentalists have been battling industry groups and state officials since the court agreement with federal officials was signed four years ago. However, federal officials earlier this year reached an agreement with the state that calls for Florida officials to set those pollution limits under a plan favored by industry groups.

"Before we get into the challenges we face moving forward I want to start with a victory lap that everybody in this room deserves to participate in," Putnam told the Florida Water Forum on Friday in Orlando before receiving applause. "And that's the win on numeric nutrient criteria."

On June 27, the EPA filed a motion in federal court asking Hinkle to modify the 2009 agreement requiring the federal agency to set nitrogen and phosphorus limits for Florida waterways. The EPA said it is now backing Florida's plan to establish limits called numeric nutrient criteria and that federal limits are not necessary or warranted under federal law.

In a response Monday to Putnam's comments, Earthjustice attorney David Guest said EPA is not complying with the 2009 consent decree, which his firm will be asking the court to enforce on Tuesday.

"EPA simply caved to the polluting industries in the state in proposing to get out of complying with large fractions of their obligations under it," Guest said. "A substantial part of the state rule that EPA approved does not comport with the consent decree at all."

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