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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|

Old Laws and New Health Threats

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 [...]

Documenting the discharges by plane – 9-24-21

Our partners at LightHawk have continued to fly surveillance flights over Lake Okeechobee regularly to help us keep an eye on the toxic algae activity within the lake. On Wednesday, pilot Howard Greenberg sent us footage from his latest flight. In the video, evidence of persisting algae blooms appears slight, but recent satellite images confirm that there's still good reason to keep our monitoring going. This summer the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee have enjoyed a much-needed reprieve from toxic Lake Okeechobee discharges — a change that communities on either coasts have been grateful for. But a big storm this time of year could still make releases to the estuaries a reality — and the Army Corps has their eyes on [...]

2021-09-24T14:32:14-04:00September 24th, 2021|All Posts, Lake Okeechobee, Toxic Algae|

VIDEO: What’s going on with red tide?

We have a system that helps us identify impaired water bodies. We have established targets for necessary pollution reduction to bring water bodies back to health. But the state of Florida is failing to crack down on polluters by adequately enforcing these rules. The results are catastrophic. Just look to the prolonged red tide event happening right now on the west coast for proof. We'd like to extend a big thanks to Jacki Lopez of Center for Biological Diversity, Justin Bloom of Suncoast Waterkeeper, and our own Gil Smart for sharing their insight and knowledge with us as we talked red tide during today's Clean Water Conversation. If you missed the event today, you can find the full recording below. And as recommended during [...]

Documenting the discharges by plane — 7-23-21

https://youtu.be/bOzIao3lH2M Our partners at LightHawk are helping us keep a close eye on the toxic algae crisis in Lake Okeechobee. This past Friday, pilot John Kusianovich flew a route along the northwest shoreline of the lake. The video above captures the back half of the trip, following the flight path seen in the image below. By John's account, the flight which included a 360 where the Kissimmee river enters the lake, didn't yield too many views of algae on the surface "aside from some patches here and there." The latest NOAA satellite imagery estimating an active bloom that was roughly 260 square miles as of yesterday, is a good reminder that algae can be present even when it's not visible. [...]

2021-07-26T16:44:53-04:00July 26th, 2021|Toxic Algae|

VIDEO: The latest on Florida’s toxic algae crisis

With toxic algae yet again plaguing Florida's water, residents are still left vulnerable due to inadequate warnings about the health impacts of exposure and retroactive "solutions" that focus more on temporary clean up than tackling the issue at its root cause. Today's Clean Water Conversation delved into the details of this worsening crisis. We heard input from Florida Gulf Coast University algae scientist Dr. Barry Rosen, Lake Worth Waterkeeper Reinaldo Diaz, and Stuart resident Becky Harris on the toxins in our water, the threats they pose to people and our pets, and how you can become an advocate for change. If you missed the conversation today, you can find the full recording below. https://youtu.be/1sI0f0DylFs Today's Clean Water Conversation was brought [...]

2021-06-25T16:38:49-04:00June 25th, 2021|All Posts, Clean Water Conversations, Toxic Algae|