League forum focuses on Florida's water quality issues
Fish kills, algae blooms, sewage discharges — Florida’s waterways frequently show startling, headline-making signs of pollution.
“These are issues that transcend politics,” Rosalie Shaffer, president of the League of Women Voters of Manatee County, told about 50 people gathered Monday for a League-sponsored forum about water pollution. “I’ve never heard anyone say they want dirty water.”
In a discussion that shifted from topics such as red tide to the sinkhole and acidic water spill from a gypsum stack at a Mosaic phosphate plant, a recurring theme emerged that a wasteful society either causes or exacerbates environmental damage.
Cris Costello, coordinator of the Florida Sierra Club’s Clean Water Campaign, used an illustration of “two guys dumping garbage on the other side of the fence” to explain the source of water pollution.
“That is the problem that we have here in Florida,” Costello said. “Too many people are dumping their garbage over the proverbial fence, the figurative fence — whether that is farmers who are letting their fertilizer or animal manure come off of their property into our waterways, whether that is neighbors of ours who put too much fertilizer on our lawns that flows down the storm drain, whether it’s our neighbors who let our dogs poop and don’t pick it up and it ends up in the storm drain and, you know, if it gets in the storm drain, it ends up at the beach and we’re swimming in it.”
Those sources lead to nitrogen and phosphorus in runoff, which contribute to the algae blooms and other damage.