If I were visiting Key West, I'd be pretty peeved. If I lived in
Key West, I'd be wet-hen mad. Why? Because while its legendary
beaches are open, people are being warned to stay out of the water.
Why? Because the level of human waste in the water has recently
been tested at several notches above the federal limit. (Frankly, I
felt better when I didn't know that the government had established
acceptable levels of human waste in swimming areas.)
The culprit is a leaky sewer system that will be replaced over
the next five years. Apparently, raw sewage is mixing with storm
water, which then runs directly into the ocean.
People are still swimming, however, at Fort Zachary Taylor State
Park, Key West's most popular public beach. Why? Because it's a
state beach, and the state of Florida doesn't conduct the same
tests as the private beaches. No test, no pollution.
So, how could one of the world's eco-treasures, an area where
visitors are warned not to even think about touching the coral for
fear of disturbing the fragile environment, turn, quite literally,
into a sewer? I'd really like to know.