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De-Sliming Florida’s Waterways

Dense mats of algae cover Santa Fe River near Gainesville, FL during an outbreak on Memorial Day weekend in 2012.

Dense mats of algae cover Santa Fe River near Gainesville, FL during an outbreak on Memorial Day weekend in 2012.

John Moran / Earthjustice

What's at Stake

Florida waterways are choked by toxic green slime, thanks to sewage, fertilizer and animal waste runoff. Earthjustice is seeking protections under the Clean Water Act to clean up the dangerous mess that is tarnishing one of the nation’s greatest water states.

Case Overview

Florida is a water state, known for its rivers, creeks, mangrove swamps and wetlands. But what was once pristine has become sullied by fluorescent green slime—the toxic result of sewage, manure and fertilizer pollution, which triggers outbreaks of algae. As a result, health officials continually warn Floridians and tourists not to come into contact with the algae-choked water.

The Clean Water Act is intended to protect people against exactly this kind of preventable pollution. In 2008, Earthjustice sued the EPA to force the agency to set standards to protect Florida’s waters from outbreaks of toxic slime.

In 2009, the EPA agreed as part of a settlement to set enforceable, legal limits on the pollution that generates toxic slime in Florida’s waterways. The agency set limits, but the state of Florida issued its own weaker limits in an attempt to displace the federal rules. Earthjustice challenged these limits, but a Florida judge sided with industry.

Now, the EPA is considering ceding control over much of Floridian waters to the state and its toothless, industry-created pollution plan. Earthjustice is challenging the EPA in an attempt to ensure that federal, enforceable standards are put in place to protect Floridians and their precious water resources.

Case ID

1773, 2148, 2278, 2460

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Ending Toxic Algae In Florida

Industrial polluters have been using Florida's public waters as their cheap, private sewers for years. Now, they are bringing considerable political and monetary forces to fight against clean water standards that the public overwhelmingly supports.

Water Warrior

Managing Attorney David Guest talks about the threat to the health and wealth of Florida's citizens posed by toxic algae outbreaks. The outbreaks are caused by pollutants from sewage, fertilizer and manure that big business pumps into Florida's waterways.

Case Updates

August 6, 2014 | Blog Post

In Florida, Toxic Algae is a Year-Round Fight

For those of us living here in sunny Florida, noxious green slime outbreaks like the one that shut Toledo, Ohio's, water system, are now a year-round occurrence.

July 8, 2013 | In the News: Sun Sentinel

Legislature could stop algae outbreaks, but...

In an opinion piece addressing water pollution in Florida, Earthjustice attorney David Guest discussed the many problems of the toxic algal blooms that continue to stain and poison Florida’s waterways. The green, slimy outbreaks—which are caused by sewage, manure, and fertilizer runoff—have sickened residents, made waters unfit for swimming and tourism, and killed hundreds of manatees, dolphins, and pelicans in the last year alone.

April 24, 2013 | Blog Post

Friday Finds: Seafood S.O.S.

Seafood lovers hooked on $1 oyster nights may soon have to find a new source of comfort for the work week blues.

January 17, 2013 | Blog Post

EPA Holds Slime Hearings In Florida

Clean water activists showed up in force today at the first of two US EPA meetings in Tampa to discuss setting limits on water pollution that comes from fertilizer, animal waste and sewage effluent.