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What's Green and Chokes Lake Okeechobee?

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18 March 2009, 11:18 AM

Apparently, the sight of toxic algae blooms spreading across South Florida's public waterways last year wasn't enough to convince the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to do the right thing and toughen standards for nutrient pollution.

So on March 9, we filed suit in U.S. District Court to compel the EPA to set more protective pollution limits for Lake Okeechobee and its tributaries. Lake Okeechobee is the second-largest freshwater lake wholly within the continental United States, second only to Lake Michigan.

The lake's size is impressive but its water quality is shameful. Animal waste and fertilizer pour off agricultural operations around the lake, fueling out-of-control algae and turning the lake's once-clear sandy bottom into muck.

Since Lake Okeechobee is a critical link in the Everglades ecosystem, setting the right pollution limits is critical.

Our suit, filed on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida and Save Our Creeks, Inc., challenges the EPA's TMDL, which stands for "Total Maximum Daily Load" for the lake. It boils down to figuring out how much more pollution a water body can stand before it collapses.

In 2006, EPA set a numeric limit (77 parts per billion) for phosphorous pollution that protected the lake. But after agriculture corporations mounted an aggressive lobbying campaign, the EPA caved into polluters demands.

In 2008, the agency upped the phosphorous limit to 113 parts per billion, which won't adequately protect the lake or its tributaries. Our lawsuit asks the court to invalidate EPA's 113 ppb limit for the lake and its tributaries on the grounds that, among other things, it is arbitrary and capricious.

The suit also seeks to compel EPA to go back and set more protective pollution limits. We're hoping the EPA, under a new administration in Washington, will do the right thing for the lake, for the Everglades, and for South Floridians who deserve a clean lake not an agricultural sewer—for their drinking water supplies.

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This problem could easily be resolved by simply declaring open season on corporate lobbyists, no bag limit. License fees would be used to fund restoration of endangered panther habitat and to control the state's burgeoning population of real estate developers.
The dead corporate lobbyists could be turned into nutritious fish food for endangered shark species. (I would oppose leg traps however in favor of a quick, clean kill.)
In a few years skies would once again be clear, water would be clean and endangered species would be multiplying like a Bernie Madoff ponzi scheme.

ignore the environment and it will go away

Who or what has taught so many corporations irresponsibility?

We must rally together and get legislation passed (and obviously passed again) that will make corporations responsible for their waste. The corporations should be spending money to develop a technology to reuse or transform the waste they create instead of on lobbyists and lawyers. If they could only create value in their waste we would have no pollution. Sadly at this point, we need not only to stop polluting but we need more, we need restoration to the systems impacted by the years of pollution.

if we lose the water all human and animals will die. please clean up the lake or it will just lead to manufacturing more important than humans living?

Our waterways are essential for us to survive both as a species and as a planet. Greed is chocking us and it must stop now!

Which florida communities recieve their water from this lake?

Help the enviroment or else we'll lose it.

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