This is disgusting (via the Tampa Bay Times):
Instead of red, white and blue, the color of the day is green. Thick, putrid layers of toxic blue-green algae are lapping at the sand, forcing Martin County officials to close the beach as a health hazard.
"I've seen Jensen Beach closed for sharks," said Irene Gomes, whose family has run the Driftwood Motel since 1958. "I've never seen it closed for an algae bloom before."
As bad as it looks, the stench is far worse, driving away Gomes' motel customers, chasing off paddleboard and kayak renters and forcing residents to stay indoors.
"It smells like death on a cracker," said Gomes' friend Cyndi Lenz, a nurse. Morgues don't smell as bad, she added.
The toxic algae bloom afflicting Jensen stretches for miles along the Martin County shoreline on the state's Atlantic coast near Palm Beach. It's also coating the water in the Indian River Lagoon and the St. Lucie River. It's thick in Lake Okeechobee, where the toxicity is 200 times above what the World Health Organization says constitutes a human health hazard.
There are four counties under emergency status right now, with much of Southeast Florida coastal regions doomed to a toxic summer.
This economic and environmental disaster was cooked up in the stew pot that is Lake Okeechobee, where state officials have not required pollution limits to be met since those limits were created in 2001, according to Mark Perry, executive director of the Florida Oceanographic Society.
That's where the algae bloom started in May. Nobody knows what sparks an algae bloom, when a benign population of a few microscopic creatures suddenly explodes into millions, said Gil McRae, director of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute in St. Petersburg. Heat has something to do with it, and a good supply of nutrient pollution.
Lake Okeechobee is more than just Florida's biggest freshwater lake. It's also a repository for nutrient-polluted runoff from suburbs and farms around its rim and a reservoir for drinking water for communities south of the lake. The nutrients come from fertilizer, manure and septic waste.
The lake is also a threat, because the earthen Herbert Hoover Dike — built around its rim after a 1928 hurricane pushed it over its natural banks and killed hundreds — is at risk for leaking and collapsing. To reduce the chance of a breach during hurricane season, the Army Corps of Engineers tries to keep lake water levels between 12.5 feet and 15.5 feet above sea level.
Thus when heavy rains hit, as happened in January, the Corps starts dumping water from the lake. It goes west via the Caloosahatchee River into the waters surrounding Fort Myers and Sanibel, and east via the St. Lucie River into the waters around Stuart.
Inevitably, algae blooms follow, with seagrass die-offs, fish kills and other economy-damaging consequences. The last time there was a bloom close to this size and intensity, back in 2005, the estuaries took months to recover, Parry said.
So guess who Rick "No Ethics" Scott blames for this?
Scott contends the culprit is the federal government because it has yet to fix and raise the dike.
Guess who's REALLY at fault?
In January, Scott signed into a law a sweeping rewrite of the state's water policy that included a loosening of the restrictions on dumping pollution into the lake. Now instead of going through a strict permitting process governing their discharges, sugar companies and other agriculture operations need only show that they're following a set of "best management practices."
That basically means "oh, we'll take the polluters word that they're not poisoning everyone with their bullshit (literal)."
We're talking about a governor in Scott - and Republican-controlled legislature in Tallahassee - that's refusing to abide by the voters who approved Amendment One in 2014, an attempt to set up a fund that would buy up and maintain wetlands such as the Lake Okeechobee area in order to preserve the environment and our precious water supply. Instead he's letting the Big Sugar businesses and other agribusiness corporations in the area pollute to their hearts' content, with this as the result. The release of lake water into the surrounding rivers and canals wouldn't be a problem if the water was pollution-free in the first place.
And if Scott wants something done about the Army Corps of Engineers to fix the levees, he'd better start yelling at a Republican-controlled Congress about increasing funding for projects like these. Oh, right. They won't.
Florida is toxic this summer because our governor and his cronies are toxic.
For the love of GOD, fellow Floridians. VOTE. THEM. OUT.