Keyed up


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.


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