We are sure that you are aware of the impending disaster of the St Lucie River Esturary and the Indian River Lagoon that we local residents (and tourists who vacation here annually) are now facing because of the illegal pollution that is killing the wildlife and creating a health hazard for humans. We ask you to please help us clean up this problem before it is too late.
The St. Lucie River Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon are in critical condition due to large discharges of polluted freshwater from Lake Okeechobee and the agricultural canals. Discharges now exceed 4.5 billion gallons per day! The water has high levels of phosphorus, nitrogen and pesticides while depositing over 500 cubic yards of sediment into the estuaries daily during the discharges. This is also a direct loss of billions of gallons of freshwater to the ocean that would normally recharge south Floridas drinking water aquifers.
Direct impacts of the discharges include fish with lesions, dying oyster populations and loss of seagrass habitat. Declines in tourism, boating, fishing, and all water-related activities are causing a major economic loss in our community. Here, the environment IS the economy. Protected areas are also being impacted, including two State Aquatic Preserves, the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary, NOAA Essential Fish Habitat, EPA Critical Habitat for Seagrass, the St. Lucie Inlet State Preserve Reefs, and St. Lucie Near shore Reefs nominated for National Marine Sanctuary. These estuaries and coastal ecosystems are habitat for over 4,300 species of plants and animals, including 33 endangered and threatened species, the most bio-diverse ecosystem in North America.
Stop the Discharges and Pollution Now Before it is Too Late!
We, the undersigned, demand that the US Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District stop the discharges of pollution that are killing our estuaries; The St. Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon, and coastal reefs. To our elected officials: We support the buyback of the 700,000 acre "Everglades Agricultural Area" and restoring the land to its original use as the "River of Grass. We demand that our government enforce the Federal "Clean Water Act", and other similar laws, prohibiting the discharge of any polluted water into the canals and waterways that flow into the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. This is not just a tourism related issue, but a serious health hazard that deserves the utmost urgency.