Something’s in the Water: Protect South Florida’s Caloosahatchee River

AlgaeBloom

Target: Steven Dunham, Chief of the South Florida Operations Office, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Goal: Protect the water supply in Southwest Florida by maintaining freshwater flow levels in the Caloosahatchee River.

A group of environmental organizations have banded together to protest (and sue) the Army Corps of Engineers for operations taking place in south Florida. Earthjustice, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the Florida Wildlife Federation have filed a lawsuit in federal court on Monday, claiming that the Corps of Engineers has been violating laws intended to protect water supplies in the area. The groups maintain that the environment and surrounding communities have been suffering as a direct result.

According to Earthjustice, the Corps has a stranglehold on the Caloosahatchee River, forcing the water to remain stagnant and allowing toxic algae blooms to develop on the water’s surface. Aside from the grotesque stench emanating from the rancid still water, dead fish have been washing up on beaches, Lee County’s Olga drinking water plant has had to be shut down, and residents are being afflicted with respiratory ailments.

“The Corps operates three water control structures which regulate the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee estuary at the Gulf of Mexico,” Earthjustice explained in a statement on their website. “Instead of providing the Caloosahatchee with the flow it needs to stay healthy, the Corps diverts water to irrigate 500,000 acres of sugar cane fields south of Lake Okeechobee. The river is too often left stagnant and polluted.”

While the Corps maintains that it has complied with area regulations, others argue that the Corp’s “help” is oftentimes too few and far between. “We’ve been asking and negotiating and begging and pleading for years, and finally we have to take action,” explained Manley Fuller, President of the Florida Wildlife Federation. “Hopefully a judge will agree with us and issue an order.”

Stand with Florida’s environmentalists in demanding that freshwater flow levels be maintained in the Caloosahatchee River. Sign the petition below today.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Mr. Dunham,

Operations carried out by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Southwest Florida are threatening a valuable water resource in the area. Because of said operations, water from the Caloosahatchee River has remained stagnant with high levels of salinity in which toxic algae blooms have developed.

Because the Corp has not been adequately allowing water to flow in the area, communities have been plagued with an overwhelming stench and bodies of dead fish washing onto nearby beaches. Additionally, a drinking water plant has had to be shut down and numerous residents are complaining about respiratory issues.

In order to protect the health of residents, as well as preserve the water supply and surrounding environment, I urge you to maintain freshwater flow levels in the Caloosahatchee River.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Sign the Petition

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