The Phosphate Risk in Florida

Dragline mining machine

Phosphate companies have mined out central Florida. The phosphate depleted, the companies have merged, gone bankrupt, or moved on. They are moving on to Southwest Florida, to the southern Peace River basin. There, they present a very real risk to the river and the Charlotte Harbor estuary, which depends on freshwater flows to remain healthy.

The economic vitality and environmental sustainability of Southwest Florida is at risk from many activities, but none of them more direct, predictable and quantifiable than the risk of phosphate strip mining.

Florida panther

The next area targeted for expanded strip mining is Horse Creek, a vital tributary in the Peace River watershed. It is a key component of a the drinking water supply for 150,000 people, a support system for dozens of species of wildlife and plants and a key link in the health of one of the state's most valuable and scenic harbors, the National Charlotte Harbor Estuary.

Right now, a hearing officer is deciding whether to allow strip mining along Horse Creek near the tiny community of Ona, in Hardee County.

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