It is the intent of the Legislature that water or wastewater service to the customers of a utility not be interrupted by the abandonment or placement into receivership of the utility. Notwithstanding s. 367.171, this section applies to each county. To that end: (1) A person, lessee, trustee, or receiver that owns, operates, manages, or controls a utility may not abandon the utility without giving 60 days’ notice to the county or counties in which the utility is located and to the commission. A person who violates this subsection commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083. Each day of such abandonment constitutes a separate offense. In addition, such act is a violation of this chapter, and the commission may impose upon the utility a penalty for each such offense of not more than $5,000 or may amend, suspend, or revoke its certificate of authorization; each day of such abandonment without prior notice constitutes a separate offense.
(2) After receiving such notice, the county, or counties acting jointly if more than one county is affected, shall petition the circuit court of the judicial circuit in which such utility is domiciled to appoint a receiver, which may be the governing body of a political subdivision or any other person deemed appropriate. The receiver shall operate the utility from the date of abandonment until such time as the receiver disposes of the property of the utility in a manner designed to continue the efficient and effective operation of utility service.
(3) The notification to the commission under subsection (1) is sufficient cause for revocation, suspension, or amendment of the certificate of authorization of the utility as of the date of abandonment. The receiver operating such utility shall be considered to hold a temporary authorization from the commission, and the approved rates of the utility shall be deemed to be the interim rates of the receiver until modified by the commission.