WFSU News Team
Mon July 23, 2012
Environmental group files lawsuit over South Florida river contamination
Three environmental groups are suing the U.S Army Corps of Engineers for damaging the Caloosahatchee River. They say a dam limiting the river’s water flow is causing toxic algae blooms in the river. A lawsuit Monday says the Corps is violating state water protection laws.
The law firm, EarthJustice, which filed the suit, says the Caloosahatchee River isn’t receiving as much water as it should. The dam diverts water from Lake Okeechobee to sugarcane fields. And that leads to stagnant water leading to toxic blooms. the toxic algae has been bad enough to stop operations of the nearby drinking water plant.
“The net effect of this violation of laws by the Corp of Engineers is that it forces the closure of the Olga drinking water plant that serves thirty thousand people,” said EarthJustice Attorney David Guest.
The toxic blooms are causing respiratory problems for people living along the river. And environmental groups say water is too toxic for swimming, fish are dying, and the smell is unbearable. The Corps told the Associated Press they do not comment on upcoming litigation.