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Want To Know If The Water At The Beach Has Been Clean? It Could Cost You $73,000

Miami Beach swimmers
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Thousands of swimmers are celebrating the 4th of July weekend by jumping in the water in Miami Beach. But if you want to know how clean the water has been, the answer could cost you nearly $73 thousand.

That’s what Miami Beach officials wanted to charge Jenny Staletovich, who covers environmental issues for the Miami Herald.

Earlier this month, she reported on a study that found high levels of human waste and bacteria related to storm water pumps.

When she requested two years of emails about water testing between Mayor Philip Levine and other Beach leaders, she says she was shocked by the charges. 

“These to me are records that the public should be able to readily access—$73 thousand is prohibitive," saidStaletovich. "We calculated it out... basically the employees would spend an entire year—that’s a year’s salary—combing over water quality reports.”

Staletovich submitted a narrower follow-up request for emails that mentioned one particular scientist involved in the study.

The city of Miami Beach revised its estimates to less than $200 for those records.

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