Warning: Beach Closed

the-nonconformist-3Imagine that you live in someplace like Kentucky or Ohio and you have planned for months to take a family vacation to South Florida. If that’s the case, you are probably all excited to be able to spend a week or so soaking up the rays at the beach, taking a swim or learning to surf or even getting out on a boat to fish or simply cruise.

You’ve probably laid out a good bit of money to either fly or drive down, forked out serious dough for a room overlooking the beach and most likely have purchased new bathing suits and other beach stuff to boot.

So how would you feel then, after all of that expense and excitement, if you arrived to find the beaches are closed due to toxic water conditions? Worst of all, what if you found the smell of the rotting sea life and algae was so bad the you couldn’t even open the slider to your balcony or walk the beach because the fumes were so disgusting and made you sick.

Worst of all, what if a family member actually did venture into the water before the closing was posted and they ended up getting a flesh eating disease or became other wise ill.

Unfortunately, this isn’t some scifi scenario but instead something that is currently going on in areas of Florida and it isn’t the first time it has happened.

If this was simply the result of a normally occurring event of nature, which I’m sure some would try to lead us to believe, we could probably understand but unfortunately it isn’t. It is the result of a discharge from Lake Okeechobee that contains tainted water from discharges largely from the sugar manufacturers there as well as ongoing discharges and runoff from other sources.

The truth of the matter is that many of the local rivers and in particular The Indian River have experienced high levels of toxicity as well as have the Everglades and portions of the Gulf for quite some time. I know because I’ve experienced them.

Certainly these events are made all the worse during hot summer months and high water temperatures which continue to rise over time.

To add to the problem, no regular water quality testing is required any more in the state so a person wouldn’t even know about a particular problem until a major event like this happens and it hits the media or some organization decides to water test on their own.

Obviously the impact is not only felt by humans but also the creatures who live in those waters, many of which can’t escape the toxins and end up dying.

Water is the source of life and is also a major source of recreation, jobs and enjoyment not only in our oceans but also in our rivers, lakes and streams and as such need to be protected and coveted by us all.

For my part, I not only enjoy the benefits to my body and soul from surfing in the ocean but also a degree of my income from it as a surfing instructor. And the impact for me pales in comparison to fishermen and business owners and employees who depend on the revenue from fishing and tourism.

Certainly runoff from industry, manufacturing, farming and golf courses have a great effect on this but to a large degree so does the run off from our individual properties. if we use chemicals and pesticides in our yards they eventually seep into the ground and run off during storms.

As I see it, we have no choice but to take this and other similar events seriously and look for ways to eliminate such events from happening in the future.

One thing is fairly certain and that is if I was part of that family who’s long awaited and heavily funded vacation was ruined by such a scenario, I would not likely return to that destination again.

Thanks for checking in this week. I hope you have a great one I will look forward to seeing you back again next week. I promise the topic will be a much lighter one but I just had to get this off of my chest.

Aloha, Paul



About authorpaulhayden

Author, artist, screenwriter, environmentalist. husband, father, surfer, surfing instructor, volunteer.
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