Thursday, June 13

Environmental groups, Stuart to request EPA to intervene in clean water efforts

Laurie MacDougall joined other residents, local leaders, and environmental advocates at a monthly Rivers Coalition meeting on Thursday. She recalled the days when the water was clear in the St. Lucie River.

I want clean water back,” MacDougall said. “I want the St. Lucie River and the estuaries to be a place that everyone can enjoy just like it was when I was young.

The biggest takeaway from Thursday’s meeting was an announcement that five environmental groups and the city of Stuart will submit a formal request to the Environmental Protection Agency asking them to intervene in Floridas water management efforts.

What were asking is for them to set specific performance measures,” said senior attorney Jason Totoiu from the Center for Biological Diversity. “So, these are numeric criteria, theyre numbers, theyre quantifiable levels of toxins, which if exceeded, pose a threat to human health.”

Totoiu helped write the petition and explained that this could push the EPA to put much needed pressure on the state to enforce standards for harmful algal toxins.

Its something residents feel is long overdue.

“The state is not doing their job to protect that water, so the federal government and the EPA needs to step in and force that to happen, MacDougall said.

All this just one day before the new Lake Okeechobee water management plan is officially submitted for review. The new plan is called Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM).

Its going to help us a lot,” Mark Perry, Rivers Coalition president and Florida Oceanographic Society CEO, said. Were now operating under a new schedule, which will provide zero discharges to this estuary, only minimal or non-harmful discharges to the other, and sending that water south where it needs to go.

If all goes according to plan, LOSOM could go into effect as early as mid-August.

Meanwhile, residents like MacDougall eagerly await actions over empty promises that the Lake Okeechobee water releases will stop once and for all.

“Its heartbreaking to me to see that year after year, decade after decade, we cant seem to solve this problem,” she said.

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *