Save the Manatee Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Defenders of Wildlife filed the lawsuit Tuesday, claiming the current water quality played a role in more than 1,000 manatee deaths in 2021. Earthjustice is representing the groups in the lawsuit, which was filed in the Middle District of Florida.
“Most of those coming from the Indian River Lagoon, where these gentle giants are starving to death because nutrient pollution has destroyed their home and their food source,” said Ragan Whitlock, staff attorney for the Center for Biological Diversity in St. Petersburg.
The groups claim the EPA’s current water quality standards from 2013 just aren’t enough. According to a release from the groups, the goal of the lawsuit is to push “the court to require EPA to reinitiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service under the Endangered Species Act to reassess its approval of Florida’s water quality standards for the Indian River Lagoon.”
“We have to change how many nutrients and what the load is that we’re allowed to dump into our bays and our waterways,” said Whitlock.