MIAMI HERALD: Lake Okeechobee: a time warp for polluted water

Miami Herald: Written by Staletovich. August 13, 2016.

For all the things that change in South Florida — the skyline, the swelling population, sea level — one thing has remained remarkably constant: pollution in Lake Okeechobee.

In 1985, 500 metric tons of phosphorus flowed into the lake. Last year, the total was 450 tons. In the years between, amounts of the damaging nutrient went up and down but nearly always remained three to four times higher than a target the state set in 2000. At a meeting in March, just before another algae bloom slimed the Treasure Coast following massive releases of polluted lake water, the state's own scientists concluded that there had been no improvement at all.

Despite decades of planning and promises, Florida lawmakers, governors and agencies have never gotten close to cleaning up the largest lake in the Southeast U.S. — the “liquid heart” of South Florida’s water supply system. The reasons are many, but they come down to one thing, said Paul Gray, Audubon Florida’s Lake Okeechobee science director.

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