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When major rains overwhelmed Lake Okeechobee this summer, the Army Corps of Engineers released billions of gallons of polluted water into surrounding estuaries rather than risk a breach of the fragile dike. By Paul Kruse marine biologist and oceanographer. Menu Home; Contact; Author: algaepollution Tracker . In Toledo, Ohio, a bloom in Lake Erie caused a tap water ban in nearby towns in 2014; the next year, the coast of Qingdao in China was hit with an algae bloom. Anywhere from 7 – 8 million people rely on water from Lake Okeechobee and many thousands more use the lake recreationally. Lake Okeechobee is the largest freshwater lake in the state and the eighth largest freshwater lake in the USA. Earthjustice today announced that as a result of a settlement agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, there will be a 70 percent reduction of phosphorus pollution permitted into Lake Okeechobee in Okeechobee County, Florida. ii In compliance with the provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C §1251 et. Water as a Soup of Toxic Chemicals: Recipe for Disaster? When the groundwater drains through this soil, it picks up the phosphorus and moves it into Lake Okeechobee. From about the 1940s to the 1980s, the agricultural industry doused the area with phosphorus rich fertilizer. Lake Okeechobee is also used for public water supplies, which have been contaminated as well due to the pollution. "The question of who let the all that pollution into Lake Okeechobee is not a federal responsibility, that's a state responsibility. This year the bloom grew large early in the season and it affected more people than usual, showing up far beyond the confines of the lakeshore. Lake Okeechobee's water has multiple uses, including drinking water, agricultural irrigation, and even navigation. Developed by STW™ Website Migration, Development & Design Team. But sadly, over the last few months, Lake Okeechobee has been villainized and portrayed as a reservoir of dirty water. Chris Wittman said he's been fishing in southwest Florida his entire life, but the once postcard-perfect summer waters are becoming fouled by slimy and toxic green algae. Toxic algae bloom threatens Florida waters, Toxic algae leads Ohio to designate western Lake Erie as "impaired", Toxic algae becoming severe threat nationwide, California Privacy/Information We Collect. Community Pulse Episode 3: Dr. Paul Gray of Audubon Florida and independent scientist Dr. Gary Goforth explain the pollution problem in Florida's Lake Okeechobee. Blue-green algae is more than unsightly — it’s a confirmed threat to human health. Ochoa, Julio. The pond apple tree is recognized as an important nesting habitat for wading birds and a trellis for the Okeechobee gourd, which is now protected as an endangered species by federal law. Scientists have linked toxin And as a result are polluting the main source of water that fe, 300 species of fish, 360 species of birds, and over 700 different kinds of plants. Harmful Discharges. She is a 110 pound cougar. It's a recurring nightmare. The problem starts at Lake Okeechobee. By the 18th century the largely mythical lake was known to British mapmakers and chroniclers by the Spanish name Laguna de Espiritu Santo. There are approximately 190,000 metric tons of phosphorus in the soil in the Kissimmee River basin. Currently, there is an estimated 50,000 tons of phosphorus on the once sandy lake bed of Lake Okeechobee. Phosphorus forms a strong chemical bond with soil. Water pollution in Florida's Lake Okeechobee has reached new record levels and threatens to get worse, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figures jointly released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Council of Civic Associations, Inc. "Controversial Lake Okeechobee flowway stays on restoration list." Despite its impressive size, the lake is shallow, with an average depth of only 9 feet. The key pollutant, phosphorus, has approximately doubled in Lake Okeechobee over the past In Toledo, Ohio, a bloom in Lake Erie caused a tap water ban in nearby towns in 2014; the next year, the coast of Qingdao in China was hit with an algae bloom. Lake Okeechobee algae blooms have been a problem for at least the last two decades. Once the algae starts to cover a waterway, it deprives it of oxygen, essentially sucking the life out of it. Scientists know that the algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee are directly linked to phosphorus. Mayaimi, meaning "big water," is the oldest known name, as reported in the 16th century, by Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda. Stream CBSN live or on demand for FREE on your TV, computer, tablet, or smartphone. Lake Okeechobee and Algae Pollution. At the heart of the Everglades is Lake Okeechobee. It is the second largest fresh water lake in the United States. The polluted, algae-infested water is then sent straight to the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, devastating wildlife and people in the estuaries and coasts. A boat on June 27 travels through a deepening algae bloom across the Caloosahatchee River, where polluted water from Lake Okeechoee gets drained toward the West Coast. For the last 140 years, people have developed the Everglades for agriculture, leisure, and urban development. Unfortunately, politics and lack of funding hinder the effectiveness of any one plan. Being the largest lake in the state of Florida, it is only natural that Lake Okeechobee is home to various wildlife – some of which are classified as endangered species. Most typically, phosphorus is released when rain and flooding move the groundwater south. The key pollutant, phosphorus, has approximately doubled in Lake Okeechobee over the past Executive Order 19-12 “What can we do to achieve more now for Florida’s Environment?” Sometimes all the bureaucracy of water management makes it difficult to understand how things work. Lake Okeechobee Pollution Swells To Near-Disaster Levels. Cape Coral is less politically connected for some reason than Florida’s east coast, and the pollution from Lake Okeechobee’s disgusting run-off is disproportionately directed to us down the Caloosahatchee River because, well; we let it happen. Hinder the effectiveness of any one plan is caused by this unnaturally high level phosphorus... 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