As part of our campaign to restore the Everglades, Earthjustice's Tallahassee office compelled the Environmental Protection Agency to set standards that will decrease agricultural pollution flowing into Lake Okeechobee by 70 percent. The lake, which once supplied clean water to the Everglades, is polluted by runoff from cattle ranches and dairy farms.
Since 1976, when cattle operations first flourished in the immediate area, there has been a tremendous decline in the populations of several fish and bird species, including largemouth bass, crappie, and most wading birds. The lake is so polluted, in fact, that a good portion of its pollution cycle is internal, coming from recycling of phosphorus within the lake. This excessive nutrient loading poses a potential threat to the lake's ecosystem, were a toxic algal bloom to occur.