For a group that claims to be dedicated to water quality, the environmental front group Captains for Clean Water have been curiously silent over the past few weeks, despite several algae blooms they could be ranting about in front of television news cameras, demanding that farmers in South Florida be blamed for the phenomenon. Perhaps the bearded “Captains” are too busy trying to find ways to sip fancy drinks with lobbyists through their coronavirus masks up in Tallahassee or hobnobbing at parties with their political friends in Washington D.C.
All the while, local media outlets in Southwest Florida have factually reported about new algae blooms along Southwest Florida’s coastal communities. But unlike past algae blooms that have occurred in years where the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have had to discharge high volumes of water from Lake Okeechobee, these more recent algae blooms have occurred without much outflow from the lake this year.
The problem for environmental activists like Captains for Clean Water is that algae blooms are politically worthless unless they can credibly point a finger of blame at someone, namely, sugar farmers located miles to the south of the lake, a region that sends all of its water south, not north into the lake.
And so, our “Captains” remain silent, as they have done in years past when similar algae blooms showed up.
According to a recent Fox 4 story, City of Cape leaders believe runoff from local golf courses are to blame for the blooms. The fouled water was concerning enough to warrant an advisory from the Lee County Health Department in recent weeks. According to the Fort Myers News-Press:
“All [canals] have visible blooms of cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae, naturally occurring microorganisms that can photosynthesize, as plants do. Overgrowth can cause problems ranging from obnoxious stench to dangerous toxicity. Some varieties have been linked to serious visible health problems, including liver and neurodegenerative diseases. Children and pets are more vulnerable, so keeping them away from the water during a bloom is especially important, the health department warns.”
The department identified at least one of the Lee County blooms was of the toxic variety, the kind that usually triggers political “outrage” from Captains for Clean Water. But a quick review of their Facebook page did not find a single post in recent months about the locally-formed blue green algae. That could change when they see this article, but for now, they are totally silent.
While the Captains continue to pursue the glamorous lifestyle that comes with pop-environmentalism, farmers continue making major headway cleaning farm water before it goes south to the Everglades. A recent Palm Beach Post report showed sugarcane and vegetable farmers south of Lake Okeechobee cut phosphorus by 68 percent in the past year. And just as damaging to the Captains’ cause, the report confirmed farmers havent’ been back-pumping water into Lake Okeechobee since the 1980s, the report notes.
With farmers constantly making huge environmental strides, algae blooms popping up in other places totally unrelated to South Florida agriculture, and Captains for Clean Water constantly getting caught playing politics instead of actually doing something useful about algae blooms whenever they pop up, it might be time the group changes their name to something more reflective of who they actually are. Perhaps “Captains for Catchy Slogans?” Maybe, “Captains for Cocktails with Lobbyists?” Or maybe just: “Captains for Celebrity Causes.”