Congress Should Address Toxic Algae in Drinking Water | Letter to the Editor

Posted December 5, 2014 at 7:20pm

Georgina Gustin’s article, “Congress Examines Threat to Water from Toxic Runoff,” (Roll Call, Nov. 30) about toxic algae outbreaks shutting down public water supplies in Ohio hits home for us here in Florida. We’ve had toxic algae outbreaks shut down water plants in South Florida, where agricultural corporations are polluting our water supplies.

It is great to hear that members of Congress whose districts touch Lake Erie are calling for the Environmental Protection Agency to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act to get a handle on this nasty problem.

It is simply not fair for corporations to get a “free pass” on this pollution. You’re not allowed to throw garbage over your fence into your neighbor’s yard, and you shouldn’t be allowed to dump pollution into the public’s water supplies.

In Florida, we have been fighting in court to get this pollution cleaned up at the source by setting common-sense numeric limits — speed limits, if you will — on the amount of fertilizer, sewage and manure pollution that’s allowed in our public waterways.

It is both cheaper and smarter to clean this pollution up at the source instead of waiting until it makes its way through the environment, wrecking the public water that we fish in, swim in and drink out of our faucets.

David Guest is managing attorney for the Florida office of Earthjustice, a national nonprofit law firm.