U.S. Water News Online
MIAMI -- A South Florida conservation group sued the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency, accusing the agency of violating
federal law by allowing polluted water from farms near Lake
Okeechobee to continue flowing south into the Everglades.
The group, Friends of the Everglades, alleges that the U.S.
Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) approval last year of a
controversial state pollution law violates the federal Clean Water
Act. At issue is the state's Everglades Forever Act. Passed in 1994,
the law sets a December 2006 deadline for achieving dramatic
reductions in loads of phosphorus flowing into the River of Grass
from the sprawling agricultural area near Lake Okeechobee.
Phosphorus is a nutrient added to farm fields and lawns. But in
the Everglades, phosphorus in the tiniest quantities -- measured
parts per billion -- spurs devastating changes in Everglades
vegetation and degrades wildlife habitat.
The lawsuit says that plans outlined under the state law are
inadequate to clean up the pollution. Moreover, the suit says, the
delay in imposing water quality standards allows the continued
degradation of the Everglades.
The EPA reviewed the state law last year under the order of U.S.
District Court Judge Edward Davis as part of a 1995 suit by the
Miccosukee Tribe. The EPA found that the lengthy schedule outlined in
the state law was legal and reasonable given the complexity of the
cleanup. It said the law did not violate the Clean Water Act.
The group's suit challenges the EPA's ruling.
John Hankinson, the EPA's Southeast regional administrator, said
his agency and the state law have made significant strides toward
cleaning up the Everglades. Under the act, farmers have made progress
in cleaning up their water and the EPA has approved a tough, new
water quality standard for the Miccosukee reservation.
``I guess what I don't understand is how this suit helps move
ahead the restoration of the Everglades,'' Hankinson said. ``So they
win the suit -- what are they going to tell everybody to do?''
The big complication, according to Hankinson, is that scientists
have yet to figure out what technology will clean the water well
enough for the Everglades.
Return to the
U.S. Water News' Archives page
Return to the U.S. Water
Use a comma to separate e-mail addresses:
Hi, I thought you might like to read this article.