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75. Cris Costello, the Florida Slime Crime Fighter

No one has worked harder to defeat harmful algal blooms and to stop red tide outbreaks in Florida during the last six years than has Cris Costello of the Sierra Club. Cris talks with Rob about the many battles by both municipalities and counties across the state of Florida to pass strong responsible lawncare ordinances.  Each ordinance has a “backbone” of responsible stewardship that Cris clearly points out.

We talked the day after the municipality of Rockledge tabled the vote on an ordinance that would have improved local ecosystems and economies.  Cris and Rob also discuss how a good ordinance was defeated in Brevard County. Lessons learned along the way will with time, sufficient vetting, and burgeoning coalitions result in passage.  Success in Tampa Bay when people modify their turf care practices lawns stayed green and water quality improved.  Most remarkable has been the comeback and new growth of sea grasses – food for green turtles, nurseries for game fish.


Cris Costello is a Regional Organizing Representative for the Sierra Club. She coordinates the Water Sentinels – Protecting Florida’s Waters Campaign to prevent harmful algal blooms in coastal and inland waters by eliminating point and non-point sources of nutrient pollution; part of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Resilient Habitat Campaign.

Cris has mobilized concerned citizens, civic organizations, homeowner associations, waterfront businesses, religious institutions and partner organizations around many related issues: urban fertilizer management policies and ordinances, state-level fertilizer management policies, local control versus state preemption of urban fertilizer regulation, numeric nutrient criteria for Florida’s waters, and water quality monitoring.

Cris has also been involved with the Sierra Club Florida Panther and Phosphate Mining Campaigns.  Cris serves on the Citizens Advisory Committee of the Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.