Target: Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy
Goal: Protect Florida waters from toxic runoff
Nutrient pollution from sugarcane plantations and agricultural projects have led to unprecedented algal blooms in Florida’s waterways. For decades the waters of Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River have been tainted with animal manure, human waste, and fertilizer, pollutants that encourage bacterial and algal growth. Urge the Environmental Protection Agency to end continuing pollution.
Discharge of water from Florida’s rivers and lakes carries excessive nutrient pollution that leads to toxic, foul-smelling algae blooms that threaten wildlife. St. Lucie river oysters, in fact, were decimated by these blooms last year. Manatees, seabirds, and dolphins also suffered die-offs. The manatees were especially affected; a record number died because of pollution. Excessive nitrogen and phosphorous from agriculture and human development, alongside sewage and manure, encourage algae growth and lead to massive, deadly blooms.
Algal blooms do more than poison the environment: they also create dead zones, depleting water of oxygen and rendering these areas completely uninhabitable for animals. Certain algae also give off aerosolized toxins, leading to sickness among human beings who breathe contaminated air. Algal blooms are responsible for mass die-offs of fish and other wildlife, long-lasting contamination of shellfish, and deaths of vital seagrass beds.
Even after algae dissipates, toxins remain in the environment, clinging to sea grass eaten by manatees or persisting in microorganisms. Shellfish that survive certain blooms are contaminated and can sicken human consumers, and environmental alterations can have widespread economic impacts on fishing and other marine-based industries.
Though the causes of algal blooms are not fully known, run-off from fertilized land and nutrient pollution have been proven to have a hand in these events. Human industry has led to decades of contamination and die-off of threatened and endangered animals, and continued pollution poses a huge risk to Florida’s marine animals, including the endangered manatee. Increasing algal blooms correspond with higher levels of nitrogen and phosphorous in run-off water from the agricultural industry and waste treatment.
These occurrences threaten both wildlife and human beings, and devastate swaths of the environment. The Florida government has known of these issues for decades, but little has been done to stop it. As the mass die-offs of the 2013 bloom indicated, we must demand that the government take action to cut down on nutrient pollution and protect Florida wildlife and the waterways from further devastation.
Dear Administrator Gina McCarthy,
Florida algal blooms have been long-occurring instances, but the Florida government has failed to adequately address the dangers posed by algal blooms. Helped along by worsening nutrient run-off—specifically, the excessive phosphorous and nitrogen found in fertilizer, human waste, and manure—algal blooms have increased in number and impact. Algae release toxins into both the water and the air, poisoning fish, birds, and marine mammals, threatening endangered species, and sickening human beings.
We must take responsibility for the devastation that our pollution causes. For decades these blooms have been threatening the environment, and increasing each year as pollution worsens. I must demand the EPA take necessary action to protect Florida waterways and wildlife, and impose stricter regulations on nutrient run-off. If you do not act, the entire marine habitat of Florida will suffer for it.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Alejandro Díaz via Wikimedia Commons