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Everglades Illustrated: piecing together the Toxic Puzzle

Documentary reveals potential solution to toxic algae exposure Every rainy season in Florida brings the threat of toxic slime in our waterways. At its worst earlier this year, Lake Okeechobee was covered in 400+ square miles of harmful blue-green algae blooms. Thankfully, Floridians have been largely spared in 2023 from large blooms entering the waterways to the east and the west of the lake, but the threat of damaging discharges isn’t over yet. Those of us living near the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and their canals, Lake O, and other waters previously tainted with algae know all too well the environmental and economic harm these discharges can bring. Green water clumped like guacamole, with dead fish at the [...]

WATCH NOW — A late-summer update on Lake Okeechobee algae

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nj3n2wLXXho From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: This is it — the most intense month of "algae season" is upon us. Weather patterns and water-management decisions in the coming weeks will determine whether or not the northern estuaries get a toxic deluge from Lake Okeechobee, where a giant algae bloom persists.   Lake Okeechobee stands at 15.3 feet, well above average for this time of year. If the lake climbs to 16.5 feet before rainy season winds down, the Army Corps of Engineers is likely to discharge massive volumes of polluted lake water to the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and the Lake Worth Lagoon. So far, we've been spared that fate [...]

WATCH NOW: Dissecting the Florida budget numbers

https://youtu.be/w8T5nLzWR0I From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: The movement you empower at Friends of the Everglades hinges on a vision for the future of Florida:It’s about clean water, protected wetlands, thriving native species, and plenty of protected green spaces for us all to enjoy. In essence, it’s about a truly restored River of Grass that works with nature instead of against it. That vision is still achievable — but the window is narrowing. And Tallahassee lawmakers are making our work harder.There’s a disconnect between the decisions we’re seeing from the Florida Legislature and the environmental challenges facing Florida, as Executive Director Eve Samples told the Miami Herald last week. Even as [...]

WATCH NOW — Why we’re concerned about Lake O’s toxic algae threat

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArvKcEdIufY With Lake Okeechobee just under 16 feet, we’re concerned about what that could mean in the months ahead. We’re already getting discharges east to the St. Lucie and west to the Caloosahatchee in an effort to bring that lake level down. Though the Caloosahatchee does need some dry season flows to keep salinity in check, the nutrient pollution that comes with those discharges can be problematic. Making matters worse — there’s an intense algae bloom predicted on Lake O this spring due to heavy rainfall from Hurricane Ian that caused the lake to rise, bringing nutrient-loaded runoff from the surrounding areas with it and putting stress on the submerged aquatic vegetation. With wet season only 3 months away, we’re [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Persistent Red Tide

Along the coast of Southwest Florida, red tide is lingering. Through January 6, 2023, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission detected low to high concentrations in 59 samples collected from Pinellas to Charlotte County, as detailed in the image above.  Conditions have varied since October when the blooms first appeared, due to ever-changing wind and currents that move blooms inshore and offshore, as well as up and down the coast. Marine animals and residents alike are feeling the repercussions, as fish kills and respiratory irritation reported by beachgoers are linked to the persistent blooms.  In Sarasota Bay, researchers have discovered that bottlenose dolphins tracked by marine scientists will “cough” and “sneeze” when they swim through strong red tide blooms, [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Sanibel Red Tide Report

Take a look at these photos from Friends of the Everglades Multimedia Producer Leah Voss. The images from a recent visit to Sanibel Island offer a sobering look at a community still very much in distress after Hurricane Ian made direct landfall along Florida’s west coast on September 28. Much of the island remains off limits to visitors as the local population continues the hard work of recovery. The latest threat exacerbating the post-storm situation hangs heavy in the air and the surrounding water — red tide. Along the shoreline, Leah described a nauseating smell and an unmistakable tickle at the back of her throat. A dead seabird laid in the [...]

2022-12-14T09:56:29-05:00December 13th, 2022|Caloosahatchee Estuary, Everglades Illustrated, Red Tide|

Everglades Illustrated: A system overwhelmed

Hurricane Ian barreled into the west coast of Florida on September 28 as a powerful Category 4 hurricane. As relief efforts remain rightly focused on the heartbreaking human toll of the storm, the environmental fallout has yet to come front and center. Satellite images are helping to piece together the beginnings of a story that has only just begun to play out. In the NASA satellite image above, swirls of sediment stirred up in Florida’s coastal water, “lifted from the seafloor as Ian neared the coast,” starkly contrast with dark plumes of stormwater runoff exiting the land. Though this tannin-colored runoff is not altogether unusual, the sheer volume of water coming off the landscape is out of the ordinary, [...]

2022-10-11T12:58:37-04:00October 11th, 2022|Caloosahatchee Estuary, Everglades Illustrated|

Toxic Discharge Update: Moore Haven and Ortona Locks 10-16-20

Scenes from the Moore Haven and Ortona Locks on the Caloosahatchee River captured Friday afternoon, October 16. Releases from Lake Okeechobee began Wednesday, October 14 at a rate of 4,000 cfs out of S-77 west to the Caloosahatchee estuary. The Army Corps reports that releases west are being implemented in a steady release at S-77 with the local basin providing a natural watershed pulse at S-79 in addition to the lake releases. https://youtu.be/MfzqGXDVsuE https://youtu.be/5xCjH2pFNgk https://youtu.be/Xo-Eo7S6Zyc

Army Corps: Hold off on Lake O discharges

Today, Friends of the Everglades asked the Army Corps of Engineers to hold off on Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries for one more week. We believe the cost-benefit analysis remains in favor of waiting, for the following five reasons: The 7-day forecast looks relatively dry, which means Lake Okeechobee’s water levels are likely to stop rising so quickly. King Tides are projected on the east coast this week, posing flooding risk that could be amplified by Lake O discharges. There are no imminent tropical-cyclone threats in the Atlantic that could bring rain to Lake Okeechobee. Florida Department of Environmental Protection is still waiting on toxicity results for water samples taken at S-308 and S-77, the [...]

RECOVER Northern Estuary Salinity Envelope Public Comment

Ms. Ehlinger, Please find Friends of the Everglades' attached line-by-line feedback pertaining to the RECOVER Northern Estuaries Salinity Envelope Performance Metrics. We thank the Army Corps of Engineers and the whole RECOVER team for its work on these draft metrics, which are an improvement over the 2007 targets. That said, we see room for improvement if the RECOVER metrics are to stand as a true measure of CERP’s ability to restore, preserve and protect the South Florida ecosystem while balancing other water-related needs. First and foremost, Friends of the Everglades strongly opposes including any Lake Okeechobee Regulatory Releases in “Optimum” performance metrics for the St. Lucie Estuary. The St. Lucie Estuary requires ZERO cubic feet of water from Lake Okeechobee; [...]