There may soon be stricter limits on nutrients flowing into Lake Okeechobee. This week, a judge threw out earlier state limits. They applied mainly to phosphorous levels in nine tributaries that feed Florida’s largest lake. The judge found the science behind them faulty—and said the Department of Environmental Protection conducted a flawed process in creating them. The decision came after a lawsuit against the DEP by several environmental groups. Attorney for “Earthjustice”, David Guest, says the department needed to set much more aggressive limits.
“The specific pollutant was phosphorous—which is a major element of fertilizer and livestock waste. The lake needs to get down to a level of about 40 parts per billion. We have to get the pollution in the tributaries down to about 40 parts per billion if we’ve got any chance at all of rescuing the lake. The department’s proposal was to set it at 159 parts per billion… almost four times higher than what was needed.”
A spokesperson for the DEP says the agency is reviewing the decision—and is committed to restoration of Lake Okeechobee. The 9 tributaries in question flow into the northeastern portion. The lake has become polluted over the last several decades—with frequent algae blooms and a thick layer of muck on the bottom.
Friday, 25 March 2005 00:00