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: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com 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.
Thanks to all of you for joining us for another successful Clean Water Conversation. Today our guests, Dr. Walter Bradley and Dr. James Metcalf, covered the frightening topic of human health impacts related to toxic algae exposure. Many of you offered up your questions and concerns for discussion, highlighting very real fears that Floridians face due to toxic Lake Okeechobee discharges. The takeaway was direct and disturbing: these toxins present clear short and long-term risks to humans, to our pets, to animals that share these environments with us, and to crops that are irrigated with polluted water. We’re grateful to Doctors Bradley and Metcalf for their truly remarkable work, dedicated to understanding the dangers of HABs. They are [...]
For more than 70 years, the Army Corps has managed Lake Okeechobee without consideration for the health of those impacted in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee watersheds and further south in Florida Bay. As a result, Floridians and their pets have been exposed to an array of serious near-term health threats. Additionally, researchers have linked toxins in discharged lakewater to increased long-term risks of liver failure, ALS, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease. In our upcoming Clean Water Conversation, we’re offering the public a chance to converse candidly with harmful algal bloom (HAB) experts Dr. Walter Bradley and Dr. James Metcalf. We know Floridians have many concerns about Lake Okeechobee releases exposing people to dangerously high levels of toxins. Now is [...]