FORT MYERS — Environmental groups filed a lawsuit Monday morning in federal court in Fort Myers seeking to force the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to let more water flow down the Caloosahatchee River to flush out pollution blamed for devastating algae blooms.
The algae blooms wreak havoc on the river's ecosystem, prompt public health warnings, close a drinking water plant that serves 30,000 people and threaten a tourism industry that depends on a healthy river, river advocates say.
Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on behalf of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida.
By not sending enough water down the river, the corps violates the state Department of Environmental Protection's water quality standards and a South Florida Water Management District regulation governing water flows in the river, the lawsuit says.
"It's unacceptable," said Becky Ayech, president of the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida, one of the groups who filed the lawsuit. "It's more than that. It's sickening. It's sickening."