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Native American tribes share concerns over quality of water flowing into the Everglades

Posted at 6:49 PM, May 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-14 18:49:27-04

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. — Representatives from the Seminole and Miccosukee Tribes of Florida went before the Collier County Board of Commissioners Tuesday to voice their concerns about the water quality flowing into the Everglades – which the tribes call home.

“We’re killing the tree islands,” said Gene Duncan. Director of Water Resources for the Miccosukee Tribe. “More water will be the death of the Everglades.”

Duncan was joined by Amos Tiger of Seminole Water Resources in a presentation to the commissioners. Tiger said that while stormwater treatment areas might remove phosphorus from runoff water flowing south from Lake Okeechobee and other areas north of the Everglades, they leave in a lot of other contaminants.

“The (stormwater treatment areas) don’t remove the pesticides, the metals, the viruses, the bacteria, sulfates and other nutrients like nitrogen,” Tiger said.

Duncan believes that human wastewater is a major factor in the tainted water flowing south, and said that the treatment for these pollutants must take place at the source.

“All the local communities need to adopt ordinances to get rid of their septic tanks,” Duncan told commissioners. “We need sewers.”

Commissioner Penny Taylor agrees that changing households in Collier County from septic to sewer systems is vital for water quality.

“The finger points at us,” Taylor said. “We have to go septic to sewer. It’s critical across this county.”

Duncan added that when the C-43 and C-44 reservoir projects on the east and west coasts are completed, it should help the health of the Everglades by storing more water, rather than releasing it.