Among the personal concerns about Hurricane Ian’s effect on homes in Polk and neighboring counties, there is one big environmental question mark, which is how the heavy rainfall will affect the massive network of ponds operated by Mosaic’s phosphate mining and fertilizer manufacturing facilities.
Polk emergency officials on Wednesday were predicting as much as 12 to 14 inches of rainfall accompanying the storm.
Although the mining companies have extensive water-management systems in place to prevent spills, the ponds do not have unlimited capacity.
The question is whether the overflow will be contained on the mine and plant properties or whether there may be discharges into local rivers or their tributaries.
At last report, Mosaic had not responded to media inquiries.
Meanwhile, earlier concerns about declining water levels on Lake Okeechobee have sidelined by recent increases in rainfall.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers recently released a statement saying the Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds the lake is in no danger.