How does the everglades affect our health?
Water Quality

The Everglades ecosystem provides recreational, economic, and quality of life benefits to millions of people and it’s critical to the water supply of South Florida.
The biggest problems facing the water supply today is water quality, specifically

Mercury seeping into the water supply. There are many sources of mercury to the atmosphere, both natural and human related.

Natural sources include out gassing from the oceans, volcanoes, and natural mercury deposits.

Human related factors include coal combustion, waste incineration, chloralkai (sodium chloride) production, and metal processing.
This includes the sugar, oranges, and tomato industry.

How does this affect us?

Mercury is easily absorbed into the blood through the digestive tract and at high levels can damage the nervous system and kidneys.

How do we consume Mercury if we don’t drink water from the streams?

The water supplied to homes, business, and hotels are from the everglades streams. We also consume fish that swim in the streams and animals that drink directly from the streams. The diagram below is a theoretical cycle of mercury in the Everglades.


Please note: If you water exceeds the Maximum Contaminant Levels for mercury, it does not necessarily mean that the water will make you sick. Because of the uncertainty, it is important that steps be taken to reduce the level of mercury to below MCL.

What can I do?

If you are concerned about mercury in your water contact your water utility. The Environmental Protection Agency requires all community water systems to prepare and deliver an annual consumer confidence report (CCR) (sometimes called a water quality report) for their customers by July 1 of each year. If your water provider is not a community water system, or if you have a private water supply, request a copy from a nearby community water system.

You can contact the Hillsborough County Water Resource Division at
Becky Garland, Interim Division Director, 925 E. Twiggs StreetTampa, FL 33602Telephone: (813) 272-5977Fax: (813) 272-5589

How will mercury be removed from my drinking water?

The following treatment method(s) have proven to be effective for removing mercury to below 0.002 mg/L or 2 ppb: coagulation/filtration, granular activated carbon, lime softening, and reverse osmosis.

Standards: Identify the important roles that the school and community play in promoting health practices and behaviors, such as providing disaster preparedness programs, school breakfast programs, youth organizations, and recycling.