Surrounded by Water, Is It Safe?

Water contamination has been a rising conflict in Florida that continues to threaten the health of Floridians.


Photo credit to “The Hill”

Across the United States, many areas depend on a surface water supply. Contrastingly, Florida is lucky enough to have an abundance of groundwater. In fact, we rely on groundwater for roughly 90% of water consumption, including drinking, plumbing, etc. However, in recent years, the threat to our groundwater supply has become increasingly concerning. 

Water pollution has become an issue via multiple mediums of contamination. The notorious mean of water pollution is basic littering that consequently infiltrates public water supply. Pollution of such items can lead to a buildup of bacteria, and an overall unhygienic water system. However, this cause is not nearly as detrimental as contamination due to agricultural runoff. 

Agricultural runoff is caused by the watering of crops that then carries elements on the crops off into other areas, such as lakes or other water reserves. This becomes problematic as many of these runoff items, such as pesticides, can be toxic to drink, or can lead to development of other bacteria that can be harmful in turn. 

For example, the most common water contaminants of Florida water supply are bacteria, nitrates, and lead. Coliform bacteria are the most common form of bacteria that end up in water supplies. While coliform bacteria in themselves are not harmful, coliform tests are useful nonetheless, as a profusion of coliform bacteria can often indicate presence of other, more harmful bacteria. Nitrates are often a result of agricultural runoff, and are common in water supplies near agricultural corporations. Lead contamination, on the other hand, is generally the result of lead components related to plumbing systems. Both lead and nitrate contamination is especially harmful to young children, as ingestion of large amounts can lead to brain and other organ damage. 

Groundwater isn’t the only problem. Surface water, such as lakes and rivers, also experience extreme contamination. A recent study done by the Environmental Integrity Project proclaimed Florida as the state with the highest total acres of lakes too polluted for swimming or healthy aquatic life. Farming fertilizer runoff has led to unbelievable algae blooms that overtake the biosphere of such bodies of water. These bodies of water also can contain high fecal matter and other bacteria that pose harm. The Environmental Integrity Project aims to follow the Clean Water Act, launched roughly 50 years ago to decrease water pollution. Unfortunately, the Project has reported that due to vague guidelines, the Act was largely ineffective. 

“I think water contamination is a legitimate world problem and should be addressed by government officials because it is ultimately the less economically affluent communities that are most negatively impacted, and in the end, this problem catches up to affect everyone,” Karen Berger (’24) said.

The water supplies of Florida deserve a call to action. Not only is aquatic life put at risk due to surface water pollution, but the health of our own citizens is in harm’s way as a result of water contamination. While citizens may attempt to diminish contamination, the bulk of change needs to stem from large corporations and government regulation to limit the amount of runoff and pollution.