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Lake Okeechobee Backpumping, Florida

Case Number # 7717

Millions of gallons of polluted water coming off of half a million acres of sugar cane fields and cities are pumped into Lake Okeechobee by the South Florida Water Management District. The discharge contaminates drinking water supplies and fertilizes toxic blue-green algae blooms. Earthjustice filed suit demanding the district obtain Clean Water Act permits for its discharges and comply with water quality standards in the lake. 

On December 11, 2006, a federal district judge in Miami ruled that the district must comply with the Clean Water Act. And on Jun 15, 2007, a federal court issued an injunction requiring the South Florida Water Management District to apply for pollution permits to engage in pumping dirty water into the lake.

As a result of our victory in court, one of the larger landowners near Lake Okeechobee, U.S. Sugar -- which farming operations resulted in polluted water being pumped back into Lake Okeechobee -- negotiated with the state of Florida to sell its 185,000 acres of lands and shut down the sugar growing and processing operations. With large-scale sugar processing phased out, once again the natural flow of water will return and help to restore the Everglades. 

Press Releases

Friday, March 28, 2014
Earthjustice wins 11-year legal water pollution battle
Thursday, June 4, 2009
"Back pumping" polluted water into Okeechobee can continue without Clean Water Act permits
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Preservation deal revised, now cheaper
Friday, June 27, 2008
Bush administration okays pumping of polluted waters into clean rivers, lakes and streams
Monday, June 9, 2008
New rule flouts federal court decision, environmental advocates will sue
Friday, June 15, 2007
Federal judge rules that backpumping polluted water poses public health threats and orders water district to obtain federal clean water permits
Monday, December 11, 2006
Decision affects pending EPA rule that proposes allowing "pollution pumping" nationwide
Thursday, June 1, 2006
Agency skirts Clean Water Act protections by allowing dirty waters
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
South Florida Water Management District claims exemption from Clean Water Act compliance
Tuesday, January 17, 2006
Court will next hear polluters and EPA on why pollution should not be regulated