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Everglades Illustrated: piecing together the Toxic Puzzle

Documentary reveals potential solution to toxic algae exposure Every rainy season in Florida brings the threat of toxic slime in our waterways. At its worst earlier this year, Lake Okeechobee was covered in 400+ square miles of harmful blue-green algae blooms. Thankfully, Floridians have been largely spared in 2023 from large blooms entering the waterways to the east and the west of the lake, but the threat of damaging discharges isn’t over yet. Those of us living near the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and their canals, Lake O, and other waters previously tainted with algae know all too well the environmental and economic harm these discharges can bring. Green water clumped like guacamole, with dead fish at the [...]

WATCH NOW — A late-summer update on Lake Okeechobee algae

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj3n2wLXXho From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: This is it — the most intense month of "algae season" is upon us. Weather patterns and water-management decisions in the coming weeks will determine whether or not the northern estuaries get a toxic deluge from Lake Okeechobee, where a giant algae bloom persists.   Lake Okeechobee stands at 15.3 feet, well above average for this time of year. If the lake climbs to 16.5 feet before rainy season winds down, the Army Corps of Engineers is likely to discharge massive volumes of polluted lake water to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and the Lake Worth Lagoon. So far, we've been spared that fate [...]

The case for sugar reform is resonating on Capitol Hill

In late July, we took our fight for sugar reform to Washington, D.C., where we met with members of Congress and their staff to educate them on the damaging impacts of the sugar industry that are supported via the U.S. Farm Bill.  We traveled across the U.S. Capitol grounds to meet with Democratic and Republican members of Congress from around the country who heard our plea for a change in the 2023 Farm Bill. Our case was made stronger by you and thousands of others who have signed the Sugar Reform Now petition. The leaders we met with were struck by the water and air pollution linked to the sugar industry in Florida. They listened to how the [...]

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to end damaging sugar protections in the Farm Bill

For the better part of a century, the U.S. Farm Bill has protected billionaire-backed sugar companies at the expense of clean air and water in Florida. We have an opportunity to change that now — with your help. Join the movement demanding an end to sugar handouts in the Farm Bill by signing the Sugar Reform Now petition!  How does the sugar program negatively impact us?  Through price supports and strict import limits on sugar, consumers and taxpayers pay more — while sugar barons get richer. Windfall profits generated by the sugarcane industry, led by Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar, are then used to buy influence over lawmakers. This protects the status quo that forces South Florida taxpayers to [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Toxic Times Ahead?

The satellite image above from June 11, 2023, presages a grim tale. The algal bloom seen here covers an estimated 440 square miles of Lake Okeechobee which, amazingly, NOAA describes as a decrease from the day before. At just over 14 feet, Lake Okeechobee is higher than anyone is comfortable with at the start of Florida’s rainy season. Comparable levels in past years have led to many billions of gallons of harmful releases to the northern estuaries. Paired with the current concentration of algae in the lake, there’s a concerning likelihood we’re headed toward another toxic summer. Friends of the Everglades spent more than three years fighting for a new lake management plan, LOSOM, that considers the risks of [...]

Spotlight On: How the U.S. Farm Bill contributes to toxic algae in Florida

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QmfsR-k3SA8 Here’s how sugar supports in the U.S. Farm Bill create toxic algae blooms Big Sugar has a very sweet deal.  U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals — which grow hundreds of thousands of acres of sugarcane in Florida — have long profited from federal protections in the Farm Bill, which is reauthorized by Congress every five years. The current Farm Bill expires September 30, 2023. Protectionist policies dating back to the 1930s benefit the industry through low-interest loans, price supports and import quotas, all designed to keep the price of sugar in the United States higher than it is on the global market. This cost, paid for by American consumers and taxpayers, creates windfall profits the industry then uses [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Seeing Green (and not the good kind)

Dense blue-green algal mats clump up at the gates of Port Mayaca on May 4, 2023, in Martin County. Photo by Leah Voss It shouldn’t be normal that Floridians fear the threat of toxic algae in the summer months, just as we nervously watch for the approach of hurricanes — but recent, repeated history has given us good reason to be wary. Water managers raised the alarm earlier this year, predicting an intense summer algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee due to heavy rainfall from Hurricane Ian that caused the lake to rise, delivering pollution-loaded runoff from the surrounding areas and killing submerged aquatic vegetation.  Last week we saw signs that this unfortunate prediction may come to pass, [...]

WATCH NOW — Why we’re concerned about Lake O’s toxic algae threat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArvKcEdIufY With Lake Okeechobee just under 16 feet, we’re concerned about what that could mean in the months ahead. We’re already getting discharges east to the St. Lucie and west to the Caloosahatchee in an effort to bring that lake level down. Though the Caloosahatchee does need some dry season flows to keep salinity in check, the nutrient pollution that comes with those discharges can be problematic. Making matters worse — there’s an intense algae bloom predicted on Lake O this spring due to heavy rainfall from Hurricane Ian that caused the lake to rise, bringing nutrient-loaded runoff from the surrounding areas with it and putting stress on the submerged aquatic vegetation. With wet season only 3 months away, we’re [...]

Join our live conversation on the fight against blue-green algae

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 [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Eye on Toxic-Algae Season

It's summer in Florida, AKA toxic-algae season. Around the world, regional shifts in temperature and weather mark the start of fall and winter, spring and summer. But here in Florida, visitors and residents have become accustomed to another season that coincides with heavy rains and longer, hotter days of summer: toxic-algae season. In the satellite image above from National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, a neon green mass accumulates in the northwest portion of Lake Okeechobee, spanning the western shoreline in a bloom that covers 160 square miles. If you’ve lived in Florida long, or have followed the news in recent years, the image evokes a familiar wariness that has become common across the sunshine state from mid-May to mid-October, [...]

2022-06-14T10:24:20-04:00June 14th, 2022|Big Sugar, Everglades Illustrated, Toxic Algae|

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