by Trimmel Gomes
Environmental groups are concerned that Florida’s persistent red tide outbreaks are being fueled by authorized polluted discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
In order to find out for sure, they’ve launched an intent to sue three federal environmental agencies.
The Center for Biological Diversity, Calusa Waterkeeper and Waterkeeper Alliance have teamed up to challenge the Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The groups maintain the agencies have ignored harm to wildlife and say plans to continue opening the dam for toxic flows through 2025 should end.
Jaclyn López, Florida director of the Center for Biological Diversity, says the Army Corps is treating rivers like a toilet.
“The practice of flushing the polluted water from Lake Okeechobee down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie has got to stop,” she insists. “We need to understand what the impact is from these discharges.”
The December 19th, notice gives the agencies 60 days to respond to the claims. In July, the Army Corps approved a plan to build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to reduce the toxic discharges.
The Corps of Engineers has been working to speed up its planed fix of the lake’s aging dike by 2022.
However, López takes issue with an emergency water level schedule created for the lake back in 2008, being extended with polluted releases through 2025.
“The cyanobacteria is a known toxin,” she points out. “It’s been connected to neurodegenerative diseases, so we have to get a much better handle on understanding what we’re doing when we’re exposing human populations and populations of wildlife to cyanobacteria repeatedly and persistently.”
Representatives for the wildlife and fisheries services have said the agencies do not comment on pending lawsuits. A message requesting comment was left with the Corps.
Public News Service – FL
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