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David Guest's blog

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I’m happy to report that we got a major, slam-dunk win for the environment down here in Florida in the mid-term elections.

A grassroots environmental initiative was the biggest winner on the statewide ballot, more popular than any other candidate or issue. By a whopping 75 percent majority, Floridians voted to add the Land and Water Conservation Amendment to our state Constitution. Florida now has what is believed to be the largest state-based conservation initiative in U.S. history.

Ichetucknee Spring.

Florida has the largest concentration of fresh water springs on Earth. And, as most of you know, the news coming out of our springs is not good. Years of sewage, fertilizer and manure runoff are tipping the biological apple cart, bringing outbreaks of algae and “No Swimming” signs on springs that have been flowing gin-clear for hundreds of years.

A fluorescent green toxic algae outbreak on St. Johns River on November 12, 2013.

A toxic algae outbreak that recently caused officials in Toledo, Ohio to ban citizens from drinking tainted city water for several days, grabbed headlines around the world. For those of us living here in sunny Florida, these noxious green slime outbreaks are now a year-round occurrence.

A water plant that is supposed to serve 30,000 people along Southwest Florida’s Caloosahatchee River, near Fort Myers, has been repeatedly shut down over the years because toxic algae makes the water unsafe.

Lake Okeechobee.

For more than 30 years, the big lake that looks like a hole on the Florida map at the top of the Everglades—714-square-mile Lake Okeechobee—has been wrecked by government-sanctioned pollution.

But we won a decision in federal court March 28 that, we hope, will put a stop to it. Florida’s biggest newspaper, The Tampa Bay Times, called the ruling “long-awaited clarity and common sense” and “a victory for public health and the environment.”

We agree.

Let’s put this news item in the Yet-Another-Crazy-Florida-Thing-We-Swear-We-Didn’t-Make-Up file.

Florida, the state with water pollution so severe that multitudes of fish, dolphins, seabirds and manatees are washing up dead, has now taken bold legal action.

But it isn’t action to clean up Florida waters. No, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and Gov. Rick Scott have filed legal action to block pollution cleanup of Chesapeake Bay.

I’m sure many questions come into your mind, namely, “Huh?”

This fall, as fluorescent green toxic algae continues to break out in front of pricey waterfront homes along South Florida’s Treasure Coast (north of Palm Beach), and around the southwest tourist meccas of Sanibel and Captiva Islands, there’s an explosion of citizen protest and lot of talk about moving the polluted water somewhere else, please.

Right now, in the prime-time of summer fishing, surfing, and swimming season, health officials in one of the prettiest places in southeast Florida are warning people not to touch the water because it poses a dangerous health risk.

A massive toxic algae outbreak along the Atlantic coast, north of Palm Beach, is turning the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie Rivers sci-fi green. This is one of the most biologically productive parts of South Florida, and one of the most popular for water sports.

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