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EPA facing lawsuit over manatee die-off, Indian River Lagoon water quality

Wildlife agencies offered lettuce to starving manatees in the Indian River Lagoon. Photo courtesy the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

Environmental groups are suing the Environmental Protection Agency over an unprecedented manatee die-off in the Indian River Lagoon.  

The groups want the EPA to strengthen water quality standards to address nutrient pollution that has led to widespread harmful algae blooms and seagrass losses. 

A record 1,100 manatees died in Florida in 2021. The groups say more than half of the deaths were related to starvation in the Indian River Lagoon.

They say the nutrient pollution is related to wastewater treatment discharges, leaking septic systems and fertilizer runoff, among other sources. 

Earthjustice is representing the Center for Biological Diversity, Save the Manatee Club and Defenders of Wildlife in federal court in the Middle District of Florida. 

The EPA, the only defendant, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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Amy Green

About Amy Green

Reporter and Producer

Amy Green covers the environment and climate change at WMFE News. She is an award-winning journalist and author whose extensive reporting on the Everglades is featured in the book MOVING WATER, published by Johns Hopkins University Press, and podcast DRAINED, available wherever you get your podcasts. Amy’s ... Read Full Bio »