Today, a state senate environmental committee is set to look at legislation that would phase out pumping sewage into the Atlantic Ocean.
Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties are the only three counties that pump treated waste into the ocean, according to news from the Miami Herald, to the tune of 300 million gallons a day. The counties are supposedly balking at the idea of it, saying it will be costly and that there’s no proof the treated waste is harming coral reefs (although scientists have been studying that).
I don’t claim to know the answers about where the sewage should go, but there has to be a better place for it than the ocean. Even if you don’t do it for the coral reefs, or for the sea life, consider the economic impact. Florida’s main industry is tourism, no small part of that thanks to the beaches. If beaches have to turn people away because the bacteria levels are too high, that sends a bad message to tourists. It also tells residents we don’t care about cleaning up our own messes.
I, for one, don’t care to swim in a cesspool.
The Edgewater Beach Hotel in Naples has been fined $500 for not following sea turtle guidelines, Naples Daily News reports. Apparently, the code board there found improper lighting was leading sea turtle hatchlings the wrong way — toward the hotel pool instead of to the ocean.
(Hatchlings follow light to find their way from their beach nests to the ocean, but city lights can lure them in the wrong direction. Many seaside municipalities in Florida have regulations on lights during nesting and hatching season for this reason.)
The hotel has until Sept. 6 to correct the problems or face more fines.
If you are vacationing at oceanside lodging from late spring through early fall, you might want to ask about how the lodging protects sea turtles. Most species are endangered, and all nests are monitored and protected by law.
One resort I stayed at with family a long time ago put a black burlap-type cover on its lampposts to dim them. I think the resort also informed guests about the sea turtles. That’s just being a good neighbor to rare wildlife.
Photo from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Floridians and tourists both love the beach — but not when it’s too polluted to be safe. A new report says in 2006, fewer Florida beaches were closed because of pollution, according to this article. The National Resources Defense Council, which developed the report, says there were fewer beach closings because it rained less, meaning less runoff of polluted water. Even so, there were 285 beach advisories in 2006, the report says.
The thought of your favorite beach being closed because it’s too polluted — apparently from runoff, the NRDC says — should get us all to think about the water quality everywhere in the state, as that water eventually ends up in the ocean, right?
So that especially makes filling Lake Okeechobee with polluted water look like a bad idea.
U.S. Geological Survey photo