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Polluting Lake Okeechobee Declared Illegal

Water, Water, Everywhere

Every year, billions of gallons of polluted water are pumped into Florida's Lake Okeechobee, one of the largest freshwater lakes in the US.  The waste water, from nearby industrial agriculture operations and urban runoff, contains nitrogen, phosphorous, and other pollutants.  These feed toxic algae blooms lethal to fish and wildlife populations dependent upon the lake. 


Not a Drop to Drink

This is all bad enough, but the Lake is also the state's largest above-ground drinking water supply.  The South Florida Water Management District claimed that it didn't have to treat the waste water before dumping it into the Lake, but Earthjustice -- and communities drinking the water -- disagreed.  Attorneys in our Tallahassee office sued the District in federal court to stop the pollution. 

Breaking the Law

The water district, backed by industrial sugar producers, the EPA, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, argued that the Clean Water Act didn't apply to this pollution pumping.  However, in December 2006 the court ruled against them.  The court found that the water district had repeatedly violated the law by polluting Lake Okeechobee.