Here in Florida, spending time on the water is a way of life. Floridians and visitors alike depend on the waterways for sport, leisure, transportation, commerce, and sustenance. Over the past decade, however, Florida has climbed to the top of the list of states with the most polluted lakes in the U.S. Despite this, there are still things each of us can do to help prevent the littering of our waterways and protect the Peace River from harmful toxins and debris.
Just How Bad Is It?
In addition to being ranked the worst for polluted fresh water, Florida also falls at the top of the list for most impaired estuaries, and 89 percent of Florida lakes are too dirty to swim in. Last year, volunteers with Keep Tampa Beautiful recovered 200 pounds of trash within a 1-mile section of the Hillsborough River.
Where Does the Pollution Originate?
For many years, industrial plants and factories largely contributed to waterway pollution. Thanks, in part, to the Clean Water act of 1972, waste from industrial complexes and factories has been significantly reduced. Now, more than 60 percent of water pollution comes from trash, stormwater run-off, excess fertilizer, and other debris and contaminants directly related to the household.
Why Should We Care?
When debris — whether it is plastic, glass, cigarette butts, bags, etc. — washes into a storm drain, it goes directly into our waterways. There is no system to filter these items. Stormwater run-off has full-circle implications, hurting aquatic life and affecting our food source. When wildlife ingests bacteria and microplastics, so do we.
What Can You Do?
- Don’t throw trash on the ground.
- Recycle. A majority of litter falls within a recycling category.
- Properly dispose of hazardous household waste. Unsure of what is considered a hazard? Call your city or county waste management with questions and to find where to dispose or collection days.
- Be conscious of storm drains, ensuring that lawn fertilizer does not go down drains.
- Prepare for storms and hurricanes by removing or securing items around your home that could blow or wash away.
- Volunteer. Join a local cleanup crew. Search Facebook or the internet for your local group.
- Pick up just one piece of trash per day!
Peace River Charters offers a one-of-a-kind experience on the Peace River. Join us on an airboat or swamp buggy tour and witness the unbelievable wildlife of the river. We’re located in DeSoto County, just a short drive from Sarasota, Venice, North Port, and Myakka City.