Any of North Central Florida’s residents and tourists that were planning to spend some time either on or near the Santa Fe River System are going to have to make other plans for this Memorial Day weekend and for some time to come.
Pollution from sewage, manure, and fertilizer runoff has created an outbreak of a thick slimy bright green algae bloom, and local authorities are recommending that no one swim, fish, or drink the water near the outbreak.
The Santa Fe is normally known for its clear springs and river bottoms filled with limestone and sand. It has been a haven for fish and other wildlife such as turtles, manatees, and an array of birds.
“Last weekend, boaters witnessed water that looked like thick, florescent green pea soup near Poe Springs” country park, according to a report by the Earthjustice, which is a nonprofit public interest environmental law firm.
Florida’s Lee County health department has had to issue warnings for people avoid contact with the waters and to keep their pets and livestock away too!
A drinking water plant on the county’s Caloosahatchee River – that serves about 30,000 people – has also been shut down due to pollution. The pollution is also affecting popular tourist beaches on Sanibel Island and Fort Myers.
“This green slime is disastrous for tourism, especially on a holiday weekend. This is a health threat and people want it cleaned up,” said Earthjsutice attorney David Guest.
“We need enforceable limits set for sewage, manure, and fertilizer to prevent this from happening again. Instead, all get is foot-dragging from leaders,” he added.
As part of a grassroots effort across the country, Earthjustice reports that, “So far, 34,000 people have written to President Barrack Obama in the past two months, asking for enforceable limits on sewage, fertilizer and manure pollution in our public waters.”
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