Originally published by The News-Press on April 20, 2023 by Chad Gillis

Experts say high loads of pollution are flowing to the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Oceans in the aftermath of a series of storms that brought summer-like rains to the Sunshine State.

Several inches of rain fell across South Florida over the past week or so, and much of that water quickly washed off the landscape, literally.

The rain was enough to cause what scientists and planners refer to as a “flush event,” when a relatively large rain spell washes nutrients and other pollutants off parking lots, lawns, farm fields and golf courses and into the water.

“What’s most evident is high levels of tannins running off the coastal mangrove forest from all the deteriorating organics,” said Calusa Waterkeeper Codty Pierce. “Also, there’s a huge increase in phytoplankton, obviously feeding on nutrients.”

Pierce said he’s seeing lots of phytoplankton feeding in high concentrations near deteriorated habitat.

“Also, most of the valleys, creeks, wetlands that water travels through have been flushed,” Pierce said. “So there’s lots of sediment.”

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