Florida Just Flushed Its “Toilet” Lake onto Its Beaches

Posted in: United States Water News
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Beachgoers at Jetty Beach Park in Florida in 2013 (Photo Credit: Ricardo Mangual Photography/Flickr)

Article courtesy of Sara Rathod| Feb 23, 2016 | Mother Jones | Shared as educational material

Just in time for tourist season, both of Florida’s coasts are being flooded by dark, polluted water that’s killing ocean creatures and turning away would-be swimmers, fishermen, and other visitors. Last month was South Florida’s wettest January since 1932. Because of the heavy rain, the water levels in Lake Okeechobee in central Florida rose to about a foot above what’s normal for this season. On top of that, water managers began to pump dirty water from flooded farms into the lake, adding more pollution to a body of water that already contains fertilizers and other chemicals from the state’s cattle and sugar industries. At the same time, officials began to worry that the rising lake waters would put stress on its aging dike, so they decided to drain the lake toward the east and west coasts. Some 70,000 gallons per second flowed into the St. Lucie River and the Caloosahatchee River all the way through to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. And as the toxic runoff spreads, it’s threatening seagrasses and oyster beds and adding to harmful algae growth. Now the tourism industry and small businesses on the coasts are worried they’re going to see their business slump as a result of the pollution. Read more about it here: http://nooga.com/172495/source-water-contaminated-new-interactive-epa-map-will-let-you-know/.

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