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Last summer’s red tide event persisted longer than any in more than 10 years with help from a constant source of nutrients from Lake Okeechobee discharges. Marine life was killed in unprecedented numbers, sparking headlines across the nation that had residents and visitors worried about human health impacts of harmful algal bloom exposure and looking to the state for answers.
Warmer days are coming, but residents may get a break this year thanks to the Army Corps’ decision to head-off mid-summer discharges. Still, facing a crisis that is likely to return, people have reasons to beware of what they hear from the state or from state-funded scientists eager to please their benefactors. When a prominent laboratory proclaims, “c’mon in, the water’s fine,” following the money can lead to unsettling questions.
The human health crisis blooming in Florida is becoming harder to ignore.
Last week a new study showed that dolphins are testing positive for fatal neurological disorders--similar to Alzheimer’s--after chronic exposure to toxic algae in the same waters that we swim in, fish from, and live on.
More conservation groups are standing up for clean water, refusing to wait decades for Florida to build itself out of this water management crisis. Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani says it plainly: the time for bold action cannot wait.
Tony Friedrich never wanted to be an expert on how nutrient pollution strangles an estuary. But he never had a choice, either. He’s been studying the Chesapeake as long as he can remember, watching dead zones spread through one of the planet’s most productive marine nurseries. His message to Florida: The same cycle of decline is taking hold in Florida Bay, the Caloosahatchee, and the St. Lucie--and we don’t have much time to stop it.
Jerry Kustich's books (including his latest, Holy Water) offer contemplative, insightful meditations on the peace and beauty of fly fishing. But this piece is different. Kustich grew up watching pollution destroy fisheries in his backyard and across the nation, and now he sees it happening in Florida.
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.
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.Read more
Florida Bay had another bad week. This video of the latest fish kill was taken on Monday at the marina in Flamingo.
Lake O had a bad week, too. As one expert reported:
“When I see over 200 ppb [phosphorus] going out of STAs--five times the Lake O limit and 20 times the Everglades limit--I have to wonder what the hell is going on? Nothing clean about the June 2017 EAA stormwater, regardless of how it was treated. Someone is lying.” (SFWMD’s Randy Smith told reporters the water was clean).
By Alan Farago
Remember how Big Sugar said the problem in Florida’s estuaries was septic tanks adjacent to the Indian River? They say the same about the mercury problem in the Everglades and Florida waterways: it’s someone else’s fault. Not of course that Big Sugar fails to clean up its pollution.
And now for something completely different...
SFWMD has the cure for "bad news" fatigue. It’s the python channel! All pythons, all the time.
Research linking cyanobacteria to liver failure ignited a recent wave of alarm as more evidence surfaced connecting toxic algae to health risks in coastal communities. But the South Florida Water Management District came through as usual with a welcome diversion on its electronic sidestage -- more pythons!
Although Florida faces another round of deep budget cuts, and federal funding for natural resource management programs may zero-out entirely this year, SFWMD somehow found the money to invest in a social media initiative dedicated largely to pythons.Read more