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Pollution must be addressed at its source

September 19, 2018
North Fort Myers Neighbor

To the editor:

As the scope of the problem with blue green algae has started to be defined it is now time to start honing in step by step on items that can be addressed. Let's start with what we all know. Excrement runs downhill. Before the water ever gets to Lake Okeechobee it is full of nitrogen and phosphorus. Potential sources of this are septic systems, farm operations run off, and possibly phosphate mines.

I am from a state where our septic system had to be inspected every three years. The state must do its duty to see that these systems are maintained. I pay a sewage treatment fee every month. The cost of inspection, maintaining and eventual replacement of a residential septic system that lasts 20-30 years is extremely low by comparison to my monthly charge from the city. There is no economic hardship by having these inspections. It is the cost of owning a residence.

Phosphorus is used to produce fruit. If there is high phosphorus runoff from farms it must be intercepted and treated prior to having that water enter the watershed. The same goes for farms that have livestock that produce nitrates. There needs to be identification and creation of areas above Lake Okeechobee for these treatment reservoirs. Not below.

Treatment: Recently I read a study regarding the use of water hyacinth in the removal of nitrates and phosphorus from polluted water and then the mature hyacinth is harvested to remove those pollutants. Let nature do its work in trying to restore what humans are destroying. I was amazed to read that the state sprays glyphosates onto the hyacinth to kill it thus returning the pollutants to the bottom of the lake. Not only is glyphosate a suspected carcinogen it too adds a small amount of phosphorous to the water. How is this an answer other than sweeping the dirt under the carpet? The state should be contracting with mechanical harvesters to capture the hyacinth and remove it. Building another reservoir below Lake Okeechobee to collect polluted water with no treatment plan means we will have two polluted lakes to contend with in the near future.

The South Canal: The state must take back its leased land south of the lake, purchase additional lands, and complete the canal to the Everglades.

Other states have dealt with identical problems, and solved them. Let's not be the national news joke every night and start to reclaim the paradise that many of us moved to enjoy. Press your legislature on each step as outlined above.

J. Caplin

Cape Coral



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