Orlando Sentinel: Florida Farming vs Coastal Communities

The US Army Corps of Engineers drains Florida’s largest freshwater lake to nearby rivers to prevent flooding of South Florida communities. Lake Okeechobee’s waters, polluted by chemicals from the agriculture industry, eventually wind their way to the coast, reported to be causing toxic algae blooms and red tides that harm plants and wildlife, resulting in massive fish kills and also causing respiratory illness for humans. Coastal residents want the lake’s water released further south, toward the Everglades. Farming communities suggest that could result in more flooding and unemployment. The environmental problems, once a brief annual event, linger throughout the year and contribute to divisions between the agriculture and tourism industries. “To keep swollen Lake Okeechobee from bursting through its shaky dike, the Army Corps of Engineers since January has drained billions of gallons of lake water each day east toward Stuart through the St. Lucie River and west toward Fort Myers through the Caloosahatchee River,” explains Andy Reid for the Orlando Sentinel. “The lake water is polluted with phosphorus — from fertilizers, animal waste and sewage draining into the lake — that fuels toxic algae blooms. In late June and early July, waterways near Stuart turned bright green with foul-smelling toxic algae that makes waters unsafe for swimming and fishing.” The Lake Okeechobee dike also highlights US challenges with aging infrastructure. – YaleGlobal

Orlando Sentinel: Florida Farming vs Coastal Communities

Aging infrastructure and release of lake waters polluted by agriculture chemicals devastate Florida’s coasts and tourism industry, which relies on international visitors
Andy Reid
Sunday, September 9, 2018

Read the article from the Orlando Sentinel  about red tides and pollution in Florida.

Andy Reid is an editorial writer for the Sun Sentinel who has worked as a journalist covering government and environmental issues in Florida since 1996.                

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