Peace River

Phosphate Mining In The Myakka River Watershed

Phosphate mining operations in the Myakka River watersheds are detrimental to drinking water quality and quantity. Thousands of acres of pristine environmentally freshwater resources are being stripped from the central Florida earth.

As a youth growing up in west central Florida, my friends and I covered countless miles of the environmentally rich landscape on foot. We pushed through wetlands, marshes, bogs, tributaries, surface springs, rivers, and the like. We were too young to realize the natural treasures all around us were critical in nature, but we had a blast anyway. We walked through countless acres of citrus groves, watermelon patches, small creeks with fish and huge gar. We waded through numerous streams and small springs bubbling up from the bottom through the sand. We swam in rivers with the manatee and tried unsuccessfully to catch alligators in the Myakka River. I lived in the woods, at least until supper time. Florida’s phosphate industry has been decimating the landscape I call home for my lifetime.

However, now I know the value of the pristine, unique ecosystems in west central Florida, I played in as a youth. The areas described above are all over west central Florida, waiting to be discovered. If I learned nothing else from these experiences, I learned water was everywhere I went as a youth and now it is not. Unfortunately, Florida’s phosphate industry official’s direct operations daily to strip all things mentioned above from the landscape for phosphate ore, which leaves toxic wastelands for someone else to neutralize.

The Myakka River and watersheds region in southwest central Florida has a population of over five-hundred thousand citizens. Historically, the lands within the watersheds are used for tourism, agriculture, and the cattle industry. Over a half million people rely on the freshwater supplied by the Myakka River and watersheds, springs, and aquifers, which are also considered as navigable waterways.

The Myakka River is some seventy miles in length starting in the Flatford Swamp (2) north of Myakka City “meandering” southwest finally discharging into the Charlotte Harbor Estuary. Naturally, this region is an excellent example of one of Florida’s finest natural treasures and has been since statehood. The Myakka River watershed is very similar to the Peace River watershed in that it holds southwest central Florida’s freshwater reserves in pristine ecosystems, unspoiled by significant land disturbances such as phosphate strip mining.

Flatford Swamp is the primary surface water feature in the upper Myakka River watershed ecosystem has a significant influence on water quality and quantity. The lowlands in this region make up part of the headwaters of the Myakka River. Other tributaries flow through the Flatford Swamp, supplying water to the Myakka River as well. A few of the tributaries are mentioned here, Long Creek, Maple, Creek, Youngs Creek, Ogleby Creek, Boggy Creek, and Sand Slough. These are navigable waterways not yet stripped from the central Florida landscape, but many of central Florida’s navigable waterways are no longer supplying recharge water because the mighty dragline stripped them from the earth.

Strip mining is mentioned here because Florida’s phosphate industry intends on decimating an eastern area of Manatee County for the phosphate ore under the virgin landscape described above. The land is owned by the phosphate industry including over two thousand acres called the Altman Tract. Eastern Manatee County is in the headwaters supplying the Wingate Creek area to the Myakka River and watersheds. Interestingly, income from tourism, agriculture, and residential sprawl on this land brings more revenue to the county coffers than phosphate. Manatee County officials know this as well. So why would county officials agree to such terms with the phosphate industry?

During the debate between opposing parties to strip mine or not, phosphate industry officials state they have a new technology to mitigate the damage caused by severe landscape disturbances. However, no plans have been revealed to clarify their statements. Curiously, industry officials make claims about new technologies that do not exist, but will be designed and implemented by the phosphate industry in the future, industry official’s claim. The future of over 2000 acres of pristine hydrologically driven water producing Florida landscape is at stake concerning the Altman track alone (1).

Florida’s phosphate industry officials now claim new technologies will mitigate the severe environmental damage caused by stripping the fabric from the land. Historically, the natural Florida landscape one sees will cease to exist including, perennial streams, wetlands, lakes, rivers, surface springs, all riparian lands, and navigable waterways. All living things will be destroyed or displaced forever during the strip mining process.

Now, studies show the land value in the area originally used for agriculture, cattle, and residential falls from previous yearly averages when the phosphate industry purchases adjacent tracts of land. (3) The industry causes severe economic and environmental disruptions in and around phosphate strip-mining operations. Phosphate officials are known as poor environmental stewards, to say the least because they know the irreparable environmental damage their industry creates day after day.

Reference

1. MINING: Army Corps tries to assess impacts of sprawling phosphate – eenews.net/stories/1059947830.

2. Myakka River — Flatford Swamp • Eastern Manatee County, north of – swfwmd.state.fl.us/recreation/areas/myakka-flatford.html.

3. Phosphate Mining | Sierra Club. – sierraclub.org/florida/phosphate-mining.

Florida Mines is your website for learning the unethical practices of Florida’s phosphate strip mining industry. See how they destroy and pollute unique aquifer systems, watershed, springs, creeks, and rivers. Florida’s residents should contact their elected officials over Florida’s phosphate industry’s severe environmental impacts.

Read more from Davey Crockett @ https://www.flmines.com – Florida Mines

Categories: Phosphate Mining

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