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Toxic Bloom Closes Lake

How familiar does this sound? Climbing summer temperatures and nutrient-rich runoff had been feeding algae blooms on the state's biggest lake for some time. Reports were sporadic. Officials weren’t overly concerned. It wasn’t news. Then, in a matter of days, an eruption of green slime coated shorelines for miles. Suddenly it was everywhere. Reports said it looked like spilled paint and smelled like rotten eggs. The DEP ordered tests. The results surprised no one: Positive. The blooms were toxic. This is not a Florida story. Lake Hopatcong in New Jersey is a major boating and fishing destination with a thriving summer economy. The timing of this year's cyanobacteria bloom couldn't be worse: a week before July 4th. Here's where the [...]

2019-12-19T06:13:08-05:00July 25th, 2019|Uncategorized|

We Asked For Toxicology Screens. We Got Smoke Screens.

“How toxic is too toxic?” Don’t ask. A year ago, Congressman Brian Mast questioned the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers about their role in tracking toxicity and warning affected communities when cyanobacteria blooms occur. His questions highlighted what has historically been an unacceptable toleration for coastal communities’ exposure to health threats from Lake Okeechobee discharges. Things are different now. This month the Corps did what Florida state health departments have been reluctant to do: Warn boaters and fishermen to avoid cyanobacteria blooms on Lake Okeechobee. Then the Corps  admitted that they consider discharges from the lake to be toxic. But where does that leave us, the thousands and thousands who were exposed to the toxins for years? Last summer a [...]

2019-12-19T06:13:18-05:00July 18th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Stunning Admission by the Army Corps

No one with knowledge of the decades-long decline of South Florida’s estuaries could have been prepared for what we heard yesterday. After years of static, after seemingly endless sidestepping and half-truths and flat-out lies from officials at every level, a stark, simple truth exploded like a thunderclap in congress. This exchange took seconds: Congressman Brian Mast: Has the Army Corps of Engineers transferred toxic water from Lake Okeechobee to the east through the C-44 into the St. Lucie estuary and the Indian River Lagoon and to the west to the Caloosahatchee River? Major General Scott Spellmon, Army Corps of Engineers: Yes sir. We have conveyed water out of the system that contained cyanobacteria and harmful algae blooms. Mast: And the [...]

2019-12-19T06:13:12-05:00July 11th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Happy Independence Day!

On this 4th of July, we’re taking a moment to express gratitude for the protection of our right to clean water as Americans, and we commend the difference that a year and a change in operational priorities can make. This year, a lower lake level has meant fewer Lake Okeechobee discharges. Although an active cyanobacteria bloom is being monitored in the lake, the St. Lucie estuary has been largely spared from the releases that have wreaked havoc during the hot summer months for the past several years.  Residents of the Treasure Coast won’t likely forget the summer of 2016 when bright green waves of toxic algae closed popular, public beaches on the 4th of July. Tainted by the stench of [...]

2019-12-19T06:13:12-05:00July 4th, 2019|Uncategorized|

GUEST POST: Fixing the Monster of Our Own Making

Outdated priorities and a broken operational system have left Florida in a tailspin of escalating catastrophes. Recently, a sharper look at the downstream effects of massive Lake Okeechobee discharges impacting health and human safety has taken center stage as more and more research surfaces tying exposure to algal toxins to a myriad of devastating health impacts.  Introducing federal legislation, like that filed by Congressman Brian Mast last week, requiring our government to manage Lake Okeechobee in a way that doesn't poison people is one way to reverse this toxic tide, right now. Another way is suing the federal agencies responsible for failing to address the harms caused by the current outdated schedule for discharging lake water into the rivers. The [...]

2019-12-19T06:13:13-05:00June 27th, 2019|Uncategorized|

This Law Would Protect Us From Toxic Blooms

This week, Congressman Brian Mast took a stand for clean water and human health when he filed the PROTECT Florida Act. This landmark legislation proposes a unified solution with immediate impacts for three critically important waterways, by declaring protection of human health throughout the entire Everglades system as the greatest priority for operational management of Lake Okeechobee by the Army Corps of Engineers. The people have spoken. April brought to a close more than two months of public comment sessions hosted by the Corps. Thousands of voices weighed in, from across the state and beyond, to build the record, provide feedback, and raise concerns as the Corps deliberates the replacement of the current Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule with a new [...]

2019-12-19T06:34:04-05:00June 20th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Friends of the Everglades Merges with Bullsugar Alliance

Today Friends of the Everglades and Bullsugar Alliance officially announce a merger of the two organizations. Special thanks to TC Palm's Tyler Treadway for the additional coverage found here.    Friends was founded in 1969 in Miami by “River of Grass” author Marjory Stoneman Douglas to protect the Everglades from a plan to build a major jetport in the middle of the Everglades. Friends has been at the of vanguard federal litigation protecting water quality in the Everglades, resulting in a 2012 state commitment to invest nearly $1 billion in badly needed infrastructure to cleanse polluted water. Its educational outreach program in Miami-Dade County has reached tens of thousands of students. Bullsugar Alliance supported the work of Bullsugar.org, best known for its [...]

2019-12-19T06:13:50-05:00June 13th, 2019|Uncategorized|

This Is What Reducing Risks Looks Like

There’s a couple things that Floridians have learned to count on each and every summer. A betting man could safely put his money on excessive heat and some amount of sure rain. Lately, unfortunate odds have made toxic algae outbreaks a strong third on the list of likely’s.  June 1st signaled the start of another hurricane season, marking the time of year when residents along the Caloosahatchee and the St. Lucie River estuaries instinctively brace themselves--following the weather closely, and watching carefully for the first signs of cyanobacteria blooms swept in with Lake Okeechobee releases. Flashback to this time last year: By the first week of June, discharges were already in full swing. More than two weeks of near-daily rains [...]

2019-12-19T06:13:51-05:00June 6th, 2019|Uncategorized|

The Truth Is In The Water

The Indian River Lagoon: trophy seatrout capital of the world. Or, at least it used to be. Mike Conner is no stranger to the brilliance of South Florida waterways. He speaks with the familiarity of a long-time angler and guide on the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, describing with reverence the beauty and the magic of a one-of-a-kind ecosystem that is responsible for some of the nation’s most iconic and prolific fisheries.The front-row seat to the best this environment has to offer has a downside, and Conner grieves the unmistakable decline of waters that once offered the playground of his dreams and the site for a reliable, thriving business. Even during times of the year when the water [...]

2019-12-19T06:13:53-05:00May 30th, 2019|Uncategorized|

Florida Doesn’t Do Averages

The system we have right now might work if Florida weather was predictable. It's not. We average about 55 inches of rain, but we have more extreme years than we have average years. Mismanaged priorities and our broken operational system leaves massive discharges to our coasts as our only option in wet years. We’ve seen the toxic results. We’ve felt the impact on our health and our economies. We’ve watched it kill the oysters and the seagrass beds. Even before we knew to worry about the human health crisis unleashed in toxic Lake Okeechobee discharges, the far-reaching environmental destruction illustrated that if the existing water management system was continued, the estuaries would be irrevocably destroyed, and the Everglades would die [...]

2019-12-19T06:13:54-05:00May 23rd, 2019|Uncategorized|