TC PALM: A month before election, Florida voters are sick about the environment — literally

TC Palm: Written by Eve Samples. October 4th, 2018.

We're a month away from choosing a new governor in Florida.

While we've seen lots of breathless prognosticating about a possible "blue wave" or "red wave" in the impending midterms, some far more tangible forces are affecting Florida politics in these final weeks of election season:

Red tide and blue-green algae.Florida's environment is now enduring a full-peninsula assault. And voters are sick about it, literally.Let's review the conditions:

The year-old red tide bloom off Southwest Florida has killed upwards of 400 sea turtles, 67 manatees (with 105 more deaths suspected), and washed ashore so many millions of pounds of dead fish that Lee County's landfill has been used to burn the carcasses.

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SUN SENTINEL: To protect South Florida, pick up pace of Everglades protection

Sun Sentinel: Written by Sun Sentinel Editorial Board. October 5, 2018.

Saving the Everglades from sea-level rise means much more to South Florida than just protecting panthers, alligators and the bald eagle.

Without the Everglades as a source of drinking water and a buffer to hurricanes, the people living in South Florida are the ones who risk becoming an endangered species.

The Everglades guards our western flank during hurricanes, absorbing drenching rains and rising waters. And long after storm season passes, its fresh water replenishes the underground supplies we tap to drink.

But if a rising sea creeps up from the south and swallows parts of the Everglades, the storm surge we face on the Atlantic Coast after hurricanes could appear from the west, too.

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FOX 4: Fort Myers kid makes science fair project about Lake Okeechobee releases

Fox 4: Written by Jillian Hartmann. October 3, 2018.

FORT MYERS, Fla. – A 13-year-old boy focuses his science fair project on the water quality crisis in Southwest Florida.

Ashton Brewster did the project on Lake Okeechobee after he couldn’t catch any fish near his home.

His family lives along the Caloosahatchee River with his family in Fort Myers.

Ashton put the project together 3 years ago, around the time Lake O was releasing water.

His project revolved around how the discharges polluted the water killing off the seagrass.

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NEWS PRESS: Environmental activist Erin Brockovich to speak Wednesday at Fort Myers' Burroughs estate

News Press: Written by Laura Ruane. October 1, 2018.

There’s no admission charge; however, donations are welcome. Those dollars would be split between four participating nonprofit organizations to help defray costs.

Besides Brockovich, featured panelists are:

•John Cassani, Calusa Waterkeeper;

•Daniel Andrews, fishing guide and executive director, Captains for Clean Water; and

•Rae Ann Wessel, natural resource policy director, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation.

Marilyn Stout, president of the Uncommon Friends board of directors, will open the panel discussion and introduce the speakers.

The pavilion seats about 250 comfortably. To accommodate more people guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs, which can be used on lawns adjacent to the pavilion.

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TC PALM: Erin Brockovich: 'I'm not going away' from fight against toxic algae in St. Lucie River

TC Palm: Written by Tyler Treadway. September 30, 2018.

STUART — Environmental activist Erin Brockovich exhorted clean water advocates Sunday to keep fighting to stop harmful algae blooms to the St. Lucie River, promising to fight right alongside them.

"I'm not going away," Brockovich told a crowd of about 100 people along the river in Flagler Park. "I'm going to help you make sure we get this right. ... I'll be back. I'll follow through."

Brockovich gained fame when, as a legal clerk, she built a case claiming a Pacific Gas and Electric Co. facility was polluting drinking water wells in and around the town of Hinkley, California, with the chemical hexavalent chromium.

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TC PALM: If it was dead birds instead of dead sea life, would we move faster to stop discharges?

TC Palm: Written by Gil Smart. September 24, 2018.

Picture this:

You're driving down the road and birds begin to fall from the sky. Not just one or two but dozens. Hundreds.

In backyards, parks and playgrounds you see other dead wildlife. Scores of dead squirrels, possums and raccoons litter the ground. News reports tell you dead alligators and turtles are being found in significant numbers. Even a few Florida panthers are turning up dead.

It would be regarded, rightly, as a terrifying catastrophe. And yet something very similar is already happening here in Florida.

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ABC 7: State ignores SWFL mayors, increases flow from Lake O

ABC 7 News: Written by Jaclyn Bevis. September 18, 2018.

Local leaders from Southwest Florida are teaming up to demand more be done to take care of the health and water quality in the Caloosahatchee River.

Mayors from Sanibel, Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach, Cape Coral, and Bonita Springs all joining in to oppose the recent decision from South Florida Water Management District that increases minimum flows in the estuary to 400 cubic-feet-per-second, up from 300.

"Every scientific person would indicate that we need at least 650 [cubic-feet-per-second]," Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane said. In early 2018, letters to the US Army Corps of Engineers, SFWMD, and the DEP from the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation as well as other Southwest Florida city and county scientists include requests for as much as 1,000 CFS of water to help improve the environment of the estuary and avoid the Caloosahatchee hitting minimum flow level violations.

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PALM BEACH POST: Lake O overflow may get pumped underground to fix algae problem

Palm Beach Post: Written by Kimberly Miller. September 14, 2018.

Water managers are fast-tracking plans to dispose of Lake Okeechobee overflow by pumping it 3,000 feet underground, agreeing to spend $10 million this week to build two deep injection wells in a test of the project’s viability.
The so-called “Emergency Estuary Protection Wells” are billed as a quick solution to reduce the amount of harmful lake water discharged into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries — a process that contributes to the plague of blue-green algae both waterways suffered this summer.

But environmental groups oppose forcing billions of gallons of lake water into the cavernous boulder zone beneath South Florida’s drinking water supply. They argue it’s a waste of freshwater needed during the dry season, and diverts attention from the overall goal of Everglades restoration.

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PALM BEACH POST: Editorial: Scott must answer for environmental malpractice

Palm Beach Post: Written by Palm Beach Post Editorial Board. September 16, 2018.

With a horrific red tide killing marine life and tourism on Florida’s southwest coast, and with toxic green algae bringing misery to the Treasure Coast and Fort Myers area on a now-annual basis, it’s understandable that Gov. Rick Scott would want to run away from his environmental record.

Voters shouldn’t let him.

From the moment the health-care multimillionaire swept into office on 2010’s Tea Party anti-tax, anti-regulation wave, he began slashing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), cutting budgets, skilled staff and inspections.

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CNN: Toxic algae becomes major campaign issue in Florida Senate race

CNN: Written by Ryan Nobles. September 13, 2018.

Two toxic algae blooms affecting Florida's waterways have become a major issue in the Senate race pitting incumbent Democrat Sen. Bill Nelson against sitting Republican Gov. Rick Scott.

The race has garnered national attention because of the implications the outcome could have for which party controls the Senate. The focus on algae, however, shows just how important local issue are in the race.

A toxic algae bloom known as a "red tide" has gripped more than 125 miles of coastline. It has killed marine life in dramatic volumes and has led to reports of respiratory issues in six different counties.
In the freshwater inland waterways, including major bodies of water like Lake Okeechobee, a toxic blue-green algae has formed as a result of polluted runoff.

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