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Water-Related News

Florida tops list for most polluted lakes in the U.S., study finds

Florida has climbed to the top of another ignominious list, thanks to its hundreds of thousands of acres of dirty lakes.

The state's waters have long been fouled by dirty stormwater and algae blooms fed by fertilizer runoff from farms. Now a new study examining water quality across the U.S. shows Florida ranking first for the highest total acres of lakes too polluted for swimming or healthy aquatic life. That means water can have high levels of fecal matter and other bacteria that can sicken people, or have low levels of oxygen or other pollution that can harm fish and other aquatic life. The state ranked second for polluted estuaries.

The Environmental Integrity Project launched the project to track the progress of the Clean Water Act as it nears its 50th anniversary.

“Fifty years ago, we had the imagination and political will to face big problems and try to do something about them,” said Eric Schaeffer, the project's executive director and former head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulatory office . “We're hoping at this half-century mark that we can find the courage to recommit.”

The group based the findings on Florida’s 2020 water quality report filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The same reporting from other states was used to compile the rankings. Ohio and the Great Lakes were excluded because they compile data on lakes differently.