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Earth Justice: FL State Legislature Choking Clean Water Rules

May 2, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Stinking, slimy, poisonous rivers filled with dead fish may sound like a horror movie, but it's a reality story for some citizens of the Sunshine State. Toxic algae fed by nutrient pollution are increasingly plaguing a number of Florida's fresh waterways, while budget cuts and proposed restrictions on the state Department of Environmental Protection could make it harder to keep those state waters clean.

David Guest, the director of Florida Earth Justice, says some state legislators want to solve the problem by simply changing the rules that define what constitutes polluted water.

"One of which is; it's okay to swim but don't get too much in your mouth; don't swim in it, it's too dangerous; and the third one is, don't let your kids wade in it."

The last major algae outbreak in 2005 saw waterfront property values drop by $500 million, according to the Florida Board of Realtors.

Property owners in Southwest Florida, living along the Caloosahatchee River, are watching the green goo completely blanket the waterway and shoreline. Guest points out that some Florida lawmakers are just mucking up the problem by passing measures that play word games.

"A bill that actually passed the House of Representatives aims to legalize the pollution instead of trying to solve the problem."

Guest explains that clean drinking water, jobs, recreation, public health, property values, wildlife, and Florida's entire way of life could all be affected.

Les Coleman, Public News Service - FL