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Florida

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.

Residents of Rochelle, Georgia, who have had to live with untreated sewage overflows.

I invite you to celebrate with a community in Rochelle, GA, that is finally getting a sewer system that works—after decades of being forced to live with one that doesn't.

An agreement to fix the system was reached this week between the city government and residents who teamed up last year with Earthjustice to sue the city. Under the settlement, the city will install a new network of pipes and pumps using funds from the state government.

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.

Plastic found in the ocean.

Have you ever dropped your phone in the water, never to find it again?

Well, according to new research out of Australia, that’s exactly what’s happening to 99 percent of the plastic that should be in the ocean; except, instead of one phone, we’re talking about millions of tons of plastic phone cases, straws, water bottles and other items that plasticize our lives. 

Google Earth satellite images of coal ash wastewater pollution from the Mill Creek Generating Station into the Ohio River.

When you think about pollution from coal-burning power plants, you probably picture smokestacks spewing out dirty air. What most people don’t realize is that coal plants are a huge water polluter—leaking more toxic pollution into America’s waters than any other U.S. industry.

We’ve filed two cases recently—one in Kentucky and one in Florida—to stop these toxic discharges into the Ohio River and the Apalachicola River.

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.

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