The front page of Monday’s New York Times spotlighted a threat we contemplate every day at Friends of the Everglades:
Lake Okeechobee, still full from Hurricane Ian’s deluge last fall, is now brimming with fertilizer-fueled toxic algae. That toxic algae is likely to be discharged east toward the Atlantic and west toward the Gulf of Mexico as the lake rises this rainy season, posing a threat to our environment, economy, and public health.
It’s a crisis we’ve been working to resolve for years, as the government-supported sugarcane industry continues to occupy about a half-million acres south of Lake Okeechobee — impeding true restoration of the River of Grass.
The story also highlights Friends of the Everglades’ commitment to science-backed solutions that consider the long-term consequences of messing with Mother Nature. We don’t blindly cheer on political wins that will cost us more in the long run.
Although the Herbert Hoover Dike rehabilitation is complete, a new Lake Okeechobee management plan is set to be implemented in December, and the $4 billion EAA Reservoir is under construction, none of these are holistic solutions to the lake’s problems. Science tells us so.
“Florida has this century-long history of trying to out-engineer Mother Nature and having it backfire, and it really feels like we’re repeating the mistakes of our past,” said Friends of the Everglades Executive Director Eve Samples in the article.
The answers are clear, but are held up by politics. Pollution needs to be better controlled, and we need more filter marshes south of Lake Okeechobee to clean lake water instead of prioritizing dirty sugarcane runoff.
While it’s encouraging to see the New York Times deliver our message to an international audience, it’s also a reminder that much work remains.
If you can, please donate today to support our grassroots fight for a better environmental future for Florida.
Then read all of reporter Dan Egan’s story: It’s well worth your time.