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Eco-fact Friday: Toxic green sludge spreads along Florida coast

Eco-fact Friday: Toxic green sludge spreads along Florida coast

South Florida is facing a new environmental crisis: a "guacamole-like" sludge is spreading along Florida's normally-scenic southern coast and it's not only disgusting looking, but it's also causing a vast array of problems, ranging from giving residents allergies to threatening marine life. From the aerial footage, the putrid invasion looks like an oil spill, but it's not-- it's actually algae and it's been spreading since June, without stopping. The disgusting algae is the result of overflow of polluted water that made its way into the ocean. Four Florida counties have declared a state of emergency this week, including Martin, St. Lucie, Palm Beach, and Lee counties. All four of these counties are connected to the state's largest freshwater body, Lake Okeechobee, which has seen unprecedented levels of toxins over the past few months. Unusually high levels of rainfall this year resulted in the government having to "back-pump" billions of gallons of polluted runoff into the lake in order to save crops and reduce risk of flooding in the area. But a new problem arose from this back-pumping-- the lake started to overflow itself. Officials were faced with a very tough choice: open a series of levees that surround the lake, dumping excess waters into the rivers and estuaries that lead into the ocean, or let the lake continue to rise, posing great danger to the surrounding area. They chose to open the levees.

Toxic green sludge is spreading along Florida's coastline

Many people are pointing fingers, placing blame on the federal government, irate about the amount of pollution that plagues Lake Okeechobee. Residents are most concerned about plugging their noses to avoid the putrid smell, business owners are worried about how this will affect tourism in the area, and marine conservationists are terrified about how this will affect the already-fragile marine ecosystem. We can only hope that people in positions of power can somehow work on rectifying this awful situation.

As always, reduce, reuse, recycle, and conserve. Small, everyday changes can make a big difference.


Dec 27, 2016 • Posted by Victoria Binkiewicz

That’s horrible! I’m a big texture person so the “guacamole-like” description gave me chills!

Sep 08, 2016 • Posted by Connie

How awful! I hope a solution is found soon to clean this up and to protect the wildlife in the area….not to mention all the people!

Jul 17, 2016 • Posted by Denise H.

I can’t even imagine! People always think the problem is somewhere else and never think it will happen in their own backyard. I hope others are learning from this and raising awareness of how to protect the environment.

Jul 13, 2016 • Posted by Cale Conley

Hopefully someone finds a way to reduce this!

Jul 12, 2016 • Posted by Joliona G Safer

I live on The Emerald Coast of Florida and was devastated to hear about this. I also read that it has already taken the life of a manatee. Such irresponsibility and neglect…

Jul 12, 2016 • Posted by Jessica Root

That is awful and I feel for the people in Florida. That green scum needs to be cleaned up, they need to find a safe way to take care of the problem. I hope all stay safe.

Jul 11, 2016 • Posted by Donna Castillo

Florida is so full of sea life and beautiful oceans..I’ve been all over Florida from the Gulf side to the Atlantic side..We as people need to stand together and make a difference period.

Jul 11, 2016 • Posted by Barb

Such a beautiful place experiencing so much harm. I hope that this is rectified for the people of Florida. I was in the Keys a few months ago and fell in love with them.

Jul 11, 2016 • Posted by Ana Martin

One more thing to worry about that’s causing more destruction to our oceans! What next?

Jul 11, 2016 • Posted by Janice

I live way to close to this disaster! It is sad to see how it is affecting the ocean, it’s wildlife, and the people that live here and visit here. I realize that it will be a long time before it is back to normal. Businesses are closing due to lack of tourism, visitors are changing their plans to visit and I can’t blame them.

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