The Bradenton Herald’s editorial on the recent “Florida 1070” study emphasized the risks of water shortages on the horizon when our population is expected to increase by 15 million residents.
Avoiding sprawl and conserving land are essential to water conservation. Pollution of our lakes and coasts kills aquatic life and discourages tourism. Weakened state environmental policies fail to protect our waterways.
A major water user, and abuser, left out of the Florida 1070 study — phosphate mining — consumes as much water each day as one of five Manatee County residents.
And, as happened with the recent sinkhole and gypstack leak in Mulberry, waste storage from the mining process contaminates the Floridan aquifer, our major source of drinking water for current and future residents. A significant portion of the water used in the mining process is for “blending” toxic waste so it can be dumped back into streams, allowed by the low standards set for this discharge.
It is time for Manatee County to take a critical look at the potential impact of new phosphate mining on the future we want for ourselves and new residents.
Do we want to rezone productive agricultural land to extraction and remove it from any possibility of safe farming or residential use in the future? Do we want to have clay slime ponds in the Manatee River watershed that could threaten our future water supply?
Do we want to destroy almost 700 acres of high-quality wetlands in the Peace and Myakka River watersheds, removing their crucial services for water storage and quality?
The Manatee County Commission will decide when the application for the Wingate East mine comes before them on Jan. 26. Everyone concerned about our water should be there.