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Congratulations Matt Hauck, Fly School Sweepstakes Winner

Matt Hauck started fly fishing in Florida more than 25 years ago. Today he chases redfish from Jacksonville to the Keys and heads to Flamingo to find snook as often as he can. But a recent trip to Florida Bay inspired him to do something about the declining conditions he saw more and more frequently.

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Sugar is Using Our Land. We Need it Back.

The key to making the EAA reservoir work might have been under our feet all along.

Scientists have said for years that the project can’t succeed without enough land. To stop discharges to the coasts and restore the Everglades, the system needs more than storage. It needs to constantly refill and empty as fast as it can in the wet season, flowing through treatment marshes to filter out pollution before sending it south. It works like a river using a floodplain to clean water as it goes.

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PRESS RELEASE: AFFTA Partners with Bullsugar

Fly-Fishing Industry Leader to Support Florida Fisheries Restoration and the Now Or Neverglades Declaration

AFFTA.org

August 16, 2017 - Stuart, FL - The American Fly Fishing Trade Association (AFFTA) today announced a new partnership with Florida-based clean water advocacy group Bullsugar to support efforts to restore critical estuaries in South Florida. Fishing in Florida boasts a state economic value of $9.7 billion. As a leading voice for the recreational fishing industry, AFFTA joins Bullsugar in calling for an end to the toxic discharges that periodically destroy fisheries in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, and to water management policies that have caused the collapse of fisheries in Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys.

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Sugar's Blame Game: Deflecting Responsibility for Hyper-Toxic Algae in Lake Okeechobee

Florida DEP announced this week that Lake Okeechobee’s newest algae bloom is hyper-toxic. With microcystin concentrations of 815 micrograms per liter, the water at Canal Point is 80 times more toxic than the World Health Organization’s threshold for warning people not to touch it. Even breathing near the water is unsafe.

Florida DEC confirmed toxin levels 80x higher than WHO warning thresholds at this site

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Extremely Toxic Algae Bloom Just Reported on Lake Okeechobee

The cyanobacteria bloom at Canal Point on Lake Okeechobee is more than twice as toxic as last year's highest lake reading, when the "guacamole" bloom clotted the St. Lucie River. These results were published today by Florida DEP, based on samples taken last week:

 

DEP tests showed extreme toxicity in the most recent Lake Okeechobee algae bloom

This image (above) shows the location of a sample taken on August 1, where testing showed a total microcystin toxin reading of 815 micrograms per liter. That's more than double the highest toxicity reading in the lake during the Toxic Summer of 2016, and more than 80 times higher than the World Health Organization's threshold for restricting bathing in contaminated water (10 micrograms/liter).

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Is Microsystin Killing Us?

This week we're sharing an article by friend and mentor Karl Wickstrom, Founder/Editor in Chief of Florida Sportsman Magazine, and long-time champion of healthy waterways.

Karl's article picks up where last week's newsletter left off: The debate is over, Lake Okeechobee has a toxic algae problem. We need to take the human health risk seriously, and hold our government accountable.

In his article Karl mentions a remarkable book about Toms River, NJ -- the town where I grew up. Like most people back then, I didn't know a chemical company called Ciba-Geigy was knowingly poisoning our water while politicians looked the other way. It can happen anywhere, even a nice, quiet town by a river.

Chris Maroney

cyanobacteria 

By Karl Wickstrom

MICROSYSTIN

Is this deadly toxin actually killing some of us in our “CLUSTER” zone?

Sure looks like it.

Microsystin is a component of what’s lovingly called blue-green algae, or other confusing names like cyanobacteria. Or my choice: poisonous slime discharged on us from special interests inland.

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The Weather Channel Was Right -- Lake O is Toxic

Last week, and three years running now, Lake Okeechobee was covered in blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria. In 2015 and 2016, it turned extremely toxic. In 2017, it will likely do the same. 

Fortunately, initial FDEP test results have not detected toxins in the water yet. However, a bloom that tests non-toxic one day can turn toxic the next. We need frequent, scheduled testing with published results so we know as soon as the water is unsafe to touch.

In 2015, Bullsugar.org broke the story on social media. Once it was public, Joe Negron told the Army Corps to close the locks, and they did -- for a whole two days, before resuming the dumping at high volume.

In 2016, the bloom was visible from space, and the toxic discharges coated our estuaries and beaches in putrid "guacamole-thick" slime.

NASA 2016 satellite image of Lake O algae bloom

 

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Science Doesn't Lie. And that's the problem.

It's hard to fire the truth. SFWMD executive director Pete Antonacci made headlines this week threatening to dismiss the National Academies of Sciences (NAS) from collaborating on Everglades restoration. Why? Because NAS has been telling embarrassing truths since its December report on the project, including the facts that planners grossly underestimated the water storage it needs and grossly overestimates how much can go underground. SFWMD has been peddling a very different story.

It wasn't the district's only struggle with truth this week. Just days after boasting about the purity of water churning out of sugarcane fields, the district’s own data showed phosphorus levels from EAA runoff more than 25 times the standard.

The SFWMD board's sugar industry sponsors are still furious about that standard, imposed by federal overseers in the rare legal loss they couldn’t pay their way out of. And they’re furious that the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) monitors the federally mandated work on Everglades restoration. Antonacci's agency was attacking NAS on their behalf.

Of course, it's not Antonacci's agency anymore. Last night the former general counsel to Rick Scott stepped down from SFWMD, reportedly to head Scott's beleaguered Enterprise Florida. Antonacci's sudden departure might offer a lesson to his replacement about how to conduct the war against science and federal oversight and the truths they surface. (Quietly.) But the war continues.

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How Much Cancer is Too Much?

Sugarcane growers added to the failed legacy of “shared adversity” with their role in June’s Everglades flood. But is it realistic to expect the industry to voluntarily sacrifice to protect wildlife or tourism or even public safety?

Today the sugar industry has total control of South Florida’s water and drainage. They opposed EAA reservoir legislation, designed to protect all stakeholders in floods and droughts, because sharing protection also means sharing control and adversity. Right now sugarcane has all the protection it needs--perfect growing conditions in all weather and steadily rising yields since 1980. Even in the worst years, sugar faces no real adversity.

But everyone else does:

  • This summer it’s Everglades wildlife drowning in high water and sugarcane runoff

  • Last summer it was millions along the St. Lucie exposed to toxic discharges linked to cancer and neurological diseases

  • Earlier this year the Caloosahatchee bounced from toxic discharges to lethal salinity levels in a matter of weeks

  • Florida Bay still isn’t getting enough freshwater, even when so much rain falls that FWC warns “there may be nothing left to save” of the Everglades unless water is drained...just not to the canals that feed the bay

  • And without that flow, saltwater intrusion into the Biscayne Aquifer (Miami’s water supply) now extends beneath 460 square miles of land

“Shared adversity” isn’t a new idea. It’s been central to the Army Corps’ Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule (LORS) discussions since 2000. SFWMD called for shared adversity in 2011 when conditions were so dry the lakebed caught fire. Water managers let Florida Bay turn saltier than the ocean that summer. But still sugarcane growers got all the water they needed to boost yields by double-digits (see chart below).

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Did Sugarcane Growers Flood the Everglades?

By Peter Girard

Did sugarcane growers flood the Everglades last week?

Few reporters seemed curious about how much of the wildlife emergency in their headlines was preventable. No one asked what it cost to keep fields dry in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). Or how much water came off sugarcane fields.

The answer--assuming 424,000 acres of sugarcane, and 15 inches of rain--is 173 billion gallons. Roughly the volume of polluted water that poisoned the Treasure Coast during 2016’s Toxic Summer discharges.

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