The muck in Florida
In Florida, for many years, the state legislature has allowed the sugar and other agricultural interests to use the local waters as their own run-off holding reservoirs. Lake Okeechobee gets the brunt of that. Florida has a special exemption from EPA oversight of its waters, something Marco Rubio has helped protect and has been proud to tout. Carl Hiaasen has written on this problem for decades. As recently as January, he reported on the passage of a state water policy bill that requires little and enforces nothing:
From now on, farms that send polluted runoff into Lake Okeechobee will only need a permit to restrict the quantity being discharged — not the amount of fertilizer crud in it. The plan allows Big Ag operators to supervise their own waste releases, which is a fantasy come true for those who pollute, including the sugar barons.
Here’s the thing about water — there’s always a downstream. And a lot of south Florida is downstream of Okeechobee. The spring was dismal. And now, summer come, the algae blooms caused by that agricultural run-off have become an emergency. Rick Scott — who gutted the state departments responsible for research and oversight of water pollution — now wants to blame the Corps of Engineers. For not making Okeechobee bigger. Obviously, it should be as big a run-off holding facility for his backers as they ever could want.
Floridians should rise in rebellion and make Rick Scott and Marco Rubio swim a canal full of microcystis aeruginosa.
Update: Article from four years back, on the history of the problem.
Update #2: Rick Scott receives an award for environmentalism.