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04 • 13 • 2022

Florida’s Sewage Pollution Crisis

By Mara Dias

Every year, over 100 million tourists flock to Florida to enjoy the state’s warm weather, sandy white beaches and an abundance of water recreation opportunities.  Beach tourism alone drives a state economy worth over $50 billion.

Despite the high value of clean water and healthy beaches to tourists and residents alike, Florida has a long history of water pollution problems caused by sewage failures.  The state’s wastewater infrastructure is failing due to old age, poor maintenance, increased populations and rising sea levels in already low- lying communities. As a result, more than 1.6 billion gallons of sewage spilled into local communities and waterways between 2015 and 2020. These spills not only put human health at risk, but they devastate Florida's waterways and coastal ecosystems by fueling toxic algae blooms and causing fish kills and coral reef die-offs. The 2.6 million homes connected to septic systems that never adequately treat wastewater only make this situation worse. 

Watch this short film to learn more about this issue and what our chapters in Florida and across the country are doing to protect clean water and public health at the beach.

See where our Blue Water Task Force program is testing in Florida and view our water quality results here.

You can also join Surfrider in calling on Congress to support adequate water quality testing in Florida and at beaches across the U. S. by increasing funding for EPA’s BEACH Act Grants Program in the federal budget. We are also asking for federal investments in repairing and upgrading our nation’s wastewater infrastructure through the Clean Water State Revolving Program.  Just click here to send an email to your representatives in Congress to ask for their support for these critical clean water programs at EPA in the FY2023 federal budget.  

Surfrider activists from across the state came together in the Florida Keys in November 2021 to discuss strategies for protecting clean water and healthy beaches.