While leaky septic tanks spur new algae blooms, Florida enviro-activists party it up in D.C.

by | May 6, 2019

Photo credit – Facebook: Congressman Brian Mast parties it up with environmental activist group Captains for Clean Water in Washington D.C. while toxic fecal bacteria causes algae blooms back home.

The anti-farmer environmental group “Captains for Clean Water” spent part of last week partying it up in Washington D.C., alongside occasional Republican Congressman Brian Mast. At the same time, an alarming uptick in fecal bacteria leaks have lead to toxic cyanobacteria algae blooms forming in South Florida. Neither Captains for Clean Water nor Mast’s office have acknowledged the algae bloom or its obvious cause: human waste leaking from aging septic tanks in the region.

Normally, both Mast and Captains for Clean Water would point the finger of blame for these destructive algae blooms at sugar farms operating south of Lake Okeechobee. But the facts don’t support that accusation, and partying it up in Washington D.C. seems to be a higher priority than pushing out factual information to the media.

When the facts aren’t on their side, it appears Captains for Clean Water would just prefer to remain silent. The group hasn’t spoken or issued a statement about the latest algae outbreak. If the facts were on their side, they would, without question, have something to say, because they justify their very existence based on blaming sugar farmers and pushing for the elimination of “large tracts” of farmland in South Florida:

Our state needs land in the Everglades Agricultural Area necessary to clean the Lake Okeechobee discharge water in an attempt to restore natural sheet flow to Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. This will take large tracts of contiguous land for the construction of storm water treatment areas that will substantially reduce phosphorous and nitrogen levels in the water. Nutrient reduction is critical so we do not simply send our problem south.

Make no mistake, Captains for Clean Water is a political special interest group that exists solely to attack farmers operating the Everglades Agricultural Area, in a coordinated effort to convince political leaders to take farm land from farmers.

Fecal bacteria has fueled the growth of toxic cyanobacteria in South Florida

They have thus far succeeded in even in fooling Governor Ron DeSantis to believe they are reasonable and truthful. DeSantis continues to embrace the radical group, and will likely continue to do so until both sides realize his dalliance with them is politically untenable or not leading anywhere useful.  Enviro-cheerleaders like Eve Samples have already given DeSantis a narrow path he must stay on. A few more parties in Washington D.C. and complete silence from Captains for Clean Water on algae issues that are obviously NOT the fault of sugar farmers will ultimately undercut the group’s credibility.

These latest algae blooms fit that bill. Like many if not most algae blooms before them, substantial evidence suggests the real culprit is, indeed, leaky septic tanks. And that just doesn’t fit the politically calculated messaging of Captains for Clean Water. For weeks, media reports have warned of high levels of fecal bacteria seeping into South Florida waterways. The Estero River alone had 26 times more than the amount of fecal bacteria considered “safe” for Florida’s beaches, according to a report in the Fort Myers News-Press filed three weeks ago.

The signs were there with plenty of warning. Captains for Clean Water have been heavily engaged in political activism all year, starting with DeSantis inviting a representative of the group to attend his state of the state speech, and ending with the big party in Washington D.C. And yet, as the crisis flares up yet again, the group is nowhere to be found.

Congressman Francis Rooney is slated to hold a town hall event this Friday to discuss this latest algae flare up. Captains for Clean Water is listed as one of the groups invited to participate. There is no word on whether or not they will attend. However, many environmental reporters in the news media are already attempting to shift the messaging strategy away from “fecal bacteria,” and instead blame “toxic cyanobacteria.” Of course, cyanobacteria growth is heavily influenced by the presence of fecal bacteria. But most people probably have no idea. Perhaps that’s the cover Captains for Clean Water needs before they can engage with a straight face.

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