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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

Thursday, January 12, 2006
Experts describe cancer-causing pollutants caused by treatment for agricultural runoff
Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Goal to limit oil, urban runoff
Wednesday, June 6, 2001
Reacting to the critically ill nature of Lake Okeechobee, leading Florida environmental groups today appealed to Florida Governor Jeb Bush and the Cabinet to order a halt to the pumping of polluted water into the ecologically fragile lake.
Wednesday, March 7, 2001
As a result of a settlement agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, there will be a 70 percent reduction of phosphorus pollution permitted into Lake Okeechobee in Okeechobee County, Florida.