Everglades National Park (Pic by Rodney Cammauf, National Park Service; via army.mil)

A federal judge has ruled that water coming from state-operated Stormwater Treatment Areas, and running south into the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, has been exceeding pollution limits designed to protect the Florida Everglades.

The ruling is the result of a long-running dispute between the state of Florida and the federal government, which argued that the state was allowing for too much pollution at Loxahatchee. In a 1992 consent decree, the state agreed to build Stormwater Treatment Areas to clean and filter pollution before it reaches Loxahatchee and Everglades National Park.

Though the Treatment Areas were specifically intended to reduce the total amount of phosphorus in the area, the ruling says the state must do more and should set even more protective limits on phosphorus, which often leads to algal blooms and fish kills.

“We know that too much phosphorus, which comes from agricultural pollution, upsets the delicate balance in the Everglades,” said attorney Alisa Coe, an attorney with environmental law firm Earthjustice, in a press release. “Judge Moreno affirmed what we’ve been saying – that the state limits must be met and pollution must be reduced.”

The Everglades has been inundated not only with pollution from phosphorus but also with sulfate runoff and methylmercury pollution — which can have a host of dangerous effects on both animal and human life.

Read the Sept. 28 ruling here (.pdf).

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