The New York Times – In South Florida, a Polluted Bubble Ready to Burst
By Lizette Alvarez
CLEWISTON, Fla. — On wind-whipped days when rain pounds this part of South Florida, people are quickly reminded that Lake Okeechobee, with its vulnerable dike and polluted waters, has become a giant environmental problem far beyond its banks.
Beginning in May, huge downpours ushered in the most significant threat in almost a decade to the bulging lake and its 80-year-old earthen dike, a turn of events with far-reaching consequences. The summer rains set off a chain reaction that devastated three major estuaries far to the east and west, distressing residents, alarming state and federal officials and prompting calls for remedial action. . . .
. . . . As a result, the St. Lucie River estuary in the east and the Caloosahatchee River estuary in the west, which depend on a naturally calibrated balance of salt and fresh water, were overwhelmed. The rush of fresh water from the lake and the estuaries’ own river basins, along with the pollutants carried in from farms, ranches, septic tanks and golf courses, has crippled the estuaries and, on the east coast of the state, the Indian River Lagoon. . . .
This awful story should be kept in mind when we think of a Mount Everest-sized cavern, heavy with salt, filling with oily, contaminated water at Bayou Corne. It looks like clean water will be just a memory soon on the bayous.