De-Sliming Florida’s Waterways

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.


Regional Office / Program

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.

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 for Earthjustice)

Case Updates

Aerial photo of a large lake with green algae slime floating on the top
June 27, 2023 From the Experts

Another Florida “Summer of Slime” — And State Government Just Made It Worse

A newly passed state law prevents local cities and counties from passing new local fertilizer regulations — or strengthening ones already on the books

June 25, 2023 In the News: South Florida Sun Sentinel

Another ‘Summer of Slime,’ and our state government just made it worse

An op-ed by Alisa Coe, Attorney, Florida Office, Earthjustice

Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus latirostris) at Crystal River, Florida.
April 3, 2023 video

Giving Manatees a Fighting Chance

We’re working to protect manatees from unprecedented mass starvation.