Clean 19–A Nontoxic Summer

This week brought the end of another Florida summer, sans some of the more nightmarish qualities of summers past. 


In 2018, we saw devastating consequences following months of toxic Lake Okeechobee discharges. People got sick, animals died by the tons, businesses suffered and the most destructive red tide in years persisted with help from the constant source of nutrients. 

This year was blissfully different. Although a large bloom lingered just behind the gates of Lake Okeechobee, downstream residents across the state were granted a reprieve from toxic discharges largely thanks to a change in operational management by the Army Corps that prioritized human health and safety. 

Now isn’t the time to let up the heat. We have the ability to make this summer the new normal. Elected officials are stepping up, but we need more of them to do so, now, not later.

In the following excerpt, Friends of the Everglades executive director, Alex Gillen, reminds us we must ask more from them. This summer is proof that the future can look amazing, but there’s no time to waste. We must continue to push now.

Original work written by Alex Gillen, Friends of the Everglades. Published 9/16/2019 by TC Palm, available online here.

Floridians need to be clear about our expectations for all elected officials: It is their job to solve the environmental catastrophe that we face in Florida because of poor planning, bad laws, weak enforcement and under-investment in our environment that is harming our health, environment and economy. It is why we elected you.

The question our elected officials should be asking themselves is, “Am I doing everything I can to solve Florida’s health, pollution and water-management problems?” The answer for DeSantis, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried and the Florida Legislature is, “No, not even close.”

Sure, they can all point to some good things here and there, but nothing that is close to resembling the massive shift needed in Florida environmental policy to get Florida back on track.  

As Floridians, it is our job to demand better from our elected officials.

To read Alex Gillen’s original opinion editorial in its entirety, click here.