The river has been overwhelmed by silt and debris, preventing residents and visitors from enjoying the river and destroying animal habitats
WASHINGTON—U.S. Congresswoman Stephanie Murphy sent a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency urging them to investigate damage done to the Little Wekiva River, located in Seminole County, and to determine whether any provisions of the federal Clean Water Act have been violated.
Individuals on kayaks, canoes, and small motor craft have enjoyed the Little Wekiva River for decades, which used to be more than 4 feet deep. Recently, however, silt and debris have rapidly overwhelmed the river, resulting in some areas becoming completely dry — leading to the loss a treasured local recreation area, an increased flood risk for other areas, and the destruction of animal and plant habitats.
“The degradation of the Little Wekiva River hurts our local ecosystems, endangers the safety of our community, and threatens our economic future,” said Murphy. “I asked the federal government to swiftly examine what is occurring, determine if federal laws are being violated, and take appropriate action to restore the river and hold those responsible accountable.”
The Clean Water Act is the primary federal law in the United States to prevent and respond to water pollution. In her letter to the EPA, Murphy cites various Clean Water Act regulations that require operators of construction sites to secure permits and take steps to prevent discharges of pollutants in stormwater runoff. Murphy’s letter outlines various concerning reports of discharge flowing from I-4 Ultimate construction sites into the river. Although inspections by local authorities have taken place, resident complaints continue and warrant a federal investigation to determine the cause and extent of the ecological damage.
The Clean Water Act authorizes the EPA to investigate whether a water pollution violation has occurred, require those responsible to stop any ongoing illegal activity; and, where appropriate, engage in restoration of the site. Murphy asked the EPA to determine whether such violations have taken place, resulting in damage to the Little Wekiva River.
Murphy represents Florida’s Seventh Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, where she serves on the House Ways and Means Committee. The district includes all of Seminole County and much of northern Orange County, including downtown Orlando, Maitland, Winter Park, and the University of Central Florida. Previously, Murphy was a businesswoman and college instructor who also served as a national security specialist in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.