Blue-green algae. It’s a danger to human health. It smells horrendous. It’s bad for business, for real estate values and for essential tourism dollars that drive the state of Florida’s clean-water economy. So what are we doing about it? More importantly, are we doing enough? In 2019, Gov. Ron DeSantis created the Blue-Green Algae Task Force to address this threat. He appointed some of the best-qualified scientists in the state to serve on it. Yet, three years later, many of the task force’s sound recommendations have been ignored by Florida’s elected leaders. No, we’re not doing nearly enough. Join Friends of the Everglades on July 27 as we talk with environmental policy experts about the lack of follow-through, and the [...]
Sugarcane burning leaves communities vulnerable to air pollution, health risks and economic stress. It’s time to forge a meaningful path to a long-overdue solution. Make this the Last Burn Season. “Belle Glade, South Bay and Pahokee is a nice place to raise your kids, and live, and to work and to play. But we’re not able to do that, ‘cause we’re too sick from the burning of the cane.” — Hester Harrell From a hospital bed in Belle Glade, Florida, 53-year old Hester Harrell breathes slowly and deliberately. She’s no stranger to the confinement of these walls, where complications from gastroparesis, diabetes and asthma have frequently landed her over the years. As a Belle Glade native, Hester has lived in [...]
On February 1, 2022, environmentalist Maggy Hurchalla gave a presentation at The Edward and Bonnie Foreman Environmental Diversity Lecture Series at Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, FL. The presentation, outlined in full below, discusses the frightening impacts of cyanobacteria as a world-wide problem and the challenges faced by the state and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers as they work to implement the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan amid this new public health threat. Old Laws and New Health Threats By Maggy Hurchalla I’m going to talk to you today about water law and water reality in a warming world and the real or imaginary conflicts that now exist. We didn’t have any water law in Florida until 1973. The [...]
Photo taken by the Lake Worth Waterkeeper of blue-green algae at the Lake Okeechobee Pahokee Marina on April 26, 2021 They’re at it again. Two sugarcane lobbyists have effectively written one of the plans that will dictate the management of Lake Okeechobee’s water for the next decade. As a Bullsugar supporter, you know this is unacceptable. The good news is there’s still time to stop this dangerous meddling. Join us in asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reject the “Alternative BB” plan, thereby limiting the sugar industry’s influence on the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual. Tell the Army Corps to prioritize protecting the public from toxic algae blooms, rather than protecting Big Sugar’s crop yields. [...]
University of Miami is looking for participants for a study measuring the longterm health impacts of Microcystin exposure. The study requires multiple participants in three categories: Residents living near areas that have been or could be impacted by harmful algal blooms Workers who are employed in areas that have been or could be impacted by harmful algal blooms Out-of-state short term visitors to those areas If you are willing to participate, please use the contact information listed below to get in touch with the study coordinators by April 15, 2021. Study Coordinators: Addison Testoff & Mohamed Diop, Marcela Jaramillo, MS, PhD Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 305-308-2477 and 305-243-7565 Study Leader: Dr. Alberto Caban-Martinez DO, PhD, MPH, CPH
2018 is a year that most Floridians will never forget. That year, widely recalled as "Toxic18," put toxic algae and its link to serious public health concerns on the map in South Florida. That year, we saw devastating consequences after another summer of toxic Lake Okeechobee discharges. People got sick, dogs died, businesses suffered, and the most destructive red ride in years persisted with help from the constant source of nutrients. Samples collected during significant cyanobacterial blooms of 2016 and 2018 and tested by Dr. Paul Alan Cox's team from the Brain Chemistry Labs in Jackson, WY found concentrations of microcystin 10,000 times greater than that allowed by the state of Ohio for recreational waters. In the years since then, [...]
Almost half a million acres of sugarcane are burned for harvest every year in the fields around the Glades. Thick smoke looms, and ash rains down on houses, cars, and schools in communities south of Florida's Lake Okeechobee most months of the year. Insufficient protections for surrounding communities imposes air pollution, health risks, and economic stress on vulnerable residents — threats that are underscored by the current pandemic. Friends of the Everglades submitted the following letter to Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried to express our support for the expansion of real protections for communities most impacted by the pre-harvest practice of sugarcane burning, until such a time that pre-harvest burning is banned entirely. Click here to view the letter in full.
Today, Friends of the Everglades stood with Congressman Brian Mast in front of the St. Lucie River in support of his newly-introduced legislation. The bill aims to prohibit toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon when microcystin exceeds the EPA recreational limit of 8 parts per billion. An advanced copy of the bill can be viewed here. With each passing year, we have accumulated more scientific evidence confirming the serious health threats posed by toxic algae blooms. Yet it’s still legally permissible to flood our communities with this toxic water. That's inexcusable. Congressman Mast’s legislation aims to stop that. These are not partisan issues. They are commonsense public-health protections. We support Congressman [...]
We need your help. The Army Corps of Engineers has formally recognized the serious public health threat posed by harmful algal blooms. As such, it is imperative that they move forward with a proposed deviation from the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS 2008) that would allow for common-sense adjustments to the current lake management plan to avoid sending toxic algae to communities. The Corps is gathering comments from the public to help them finalize the proposed changes to current lake management. Your input can help shape the way the federal government manages South Florida’s waterways. If you’ve seen the impacts of toxic blooms, discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee, or the collapse of Florida Bay and the health of [...]
Friends of the Everglades submitted the following comments to the Army Corps of Engineers to express our support for a proposed deviation from LORS 2008, allowing for common sense adjustments to the current Lake Okeechobee management plan in recognition of the serious public health threat posed by harmful algal blooms.