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Report: Florida's Water Pollution Costs $10.5 Billion, Annually

Photo: Santa Fe river slime outbreak, May 2012. Courtesy: Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson photo.
Photo: Santa Fe river slime outbreak, May 2012. Courtesy: Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson photo.
November 29, 2012

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida's water-pollution problem is costing the state more than $10 billion every year, according to an independent report released Wednesday.

The Stockholm Environment Institute analyzed the impact of statewide problems such as algae and red-tide outbreaks. The results of the report don't surprise David Guest, managing attorney for Earthjustice in Florida, who points to the water pollution caused by industries in the state.

"That's just unfair. When you dump things in other people's water - destroys their property values, destroys their businesses - then you ought to stop."

This week's report comes as Florida policymakers wait to see if the federal Environmental Protection Agency will accept their new state-written water-pollution plan or enact stronger federal rules and enforcement. Opponents to stricter water standards argue that the cost to prevent pollution is too high for businesses.

Guest hopes the EPA is paying attention to the analysis.

"This is reminding EPA that there's a cost to real people of blowing off the public interest and approving Tea Party administration rules."

In addition to the issue of algae and red tides, Florida's springs have high nitrate levels, including Silver Springs with a nitrate level 1,000 times higher than normal. Sewage, manure and fertilizer are seen as major contributors to the water-pollution problem.

The full report is available online at

Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service - FL