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WATCH NOW — What happened and what’s next with Lake Okeechobee discharges in 2024

https://youtu.be/ODJ1Vjs12YI From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: Let me start with a big thank you. When we asked you to take action in response to damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges this spring, more than 1,500 of you stepped up and sent messages to water managers. Your messages, and our direct pressure, made a difference. The Army Corps of Engineers — acting on advice from the South Florida Water Management District — announced it would halt harmful Lake O flows to the St. Lucie River, Caloosahatchee River and Lake Worth Lagoon through at least June 1. Only beneficial releases will be allowed to the Caloosahatchee, which needs some lake water to maintain healthy [...]

2024-05-30T11:42:03-04:00April 16th, 2024|Lake Okeechobee, Voice of the Everglades|

STA capacity must be publicly addressed to fix the rigged system

We need you to speak up! On March 30, the Army Corps of Engineers closed the flood gates from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River, Caloosahatchee River and Lake Worth Lagoon. This pause is a testament to the power of public pressure.  Thanks to important input provided by stakeholders as well as the official recommendations of the South Florida Water Management District, only beneficial releases are resuming  to the Caloosahatchee and releases to the St. Lucie River and Lake Worth Lagoon will remain paused. We are grateful to the Army Corps for listening to our concerns and adjusting Lake O flows accordingly. But even with harmful releases temporarily avoided, the problem remains. Should the wet season [...]

2024-05-30T11:42:03-04:00April 8th, 2024|Action Alerts, All Posts, Lake Okeechobee, Toxic Algae|

Ask SFWMD Governing Board members to fix the rigged system

We need you to speak up! Since February 17, water managers have permitted the release of harmful discharges out of Lake Okeechobee, causing damaging declines in salinity on Florida’s east and west coasts and staining the fragile St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and Lake Worth Lagoon with dark, polluted water. As Floridians eye the coming wet season, signs of an early algae bloom lurk in the northwest corner of the lake — a symptom that could indicate a disastrous and toxic summer ahead. This all-too-familiar scenario is the product of a rigged system.  There is a solution, and we need South Florida Water Management District Governing Board members to embrace it.  About 62,000 acres of taxpayer-funded stormwater [...]

2024-03-27T08:39:42-04:00March 27th, 2024|Action Alerts, All Posts, Lake Okeechobee, Toxic Algae|

WATCH NOW — Lake Okeechobee discharges are not a “necessary evil”

https://youtu.be/BUS0_v1IqSw?si=iJAP5wVP5sFaCHzq From the desk of our Executive Director, Eve Samples, your Voice of the Everglades update: It’s been just over a month since the Army Corps of Engineers opened the floodgates from Lake Okeechobee, causing polluted water to foul the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and the Lake Worth Lagoon. As a result, water quality and salinity levels have plummeted in these fragile estuaries. Water that should be clear now has the murky hue of Yoohoo.   It’s an ugly scene — but the most dangerous conditions still lie ahead of us. About 15% of Lake O is showing signs of an algae bloom, mostly along the western and northern shore. As the weather heats up, that bloom will expand [...]

WATCH NOW — Floodgates are open from Lake Okeechobee — AGAIN

https://youtu.be/UdoHOYv2t0M This is the moment we've been bracing for. Last Saturday, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the flood gates from Lake Okeechobee to the northern estuaries — allowing billions of gallons of polluted water to flow, untreated, into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers and the Lake Worth Lagoon. If you haven't seen these damaging discharges, check out our video footage from the St. Lucie Lock & Dam. A whitewater torrent is flowing from the gates, and it could continue until April 1. The Army Corps of Engineers is using these fragile estuaries as relief valves in an attempt to lower Lake Okeechobee ahead of rainy season. The effects are swift and violent. Salinity levels plummeted in the [...]

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 [...]

TAKE ACTION: Tell Congress to end damaging sugar protections in the Farm Bill

For the better part of a century, the U.S. Farm Bill has protected billionaire-backed sugar companies at the expense of clean air and water in Florida. We have an opportunity to change that now — with your help. Join the movement demanding an end to sugar handouts in the Farm Bill by signing the Sugar Reform Now petition!  How does the sugar program negatively impact us?  Through price supports and strict import limits on sugar, consumers and taxpayers pay more — while sugar barons get richer. Windfall profits generated by the sugarcane industry, led by Florida Crystals and U.S. Sugar, are then used to buy influence over lawmakers. This protects the status quo that forces South Florida taxpayers to [...]

Everglades in the News: The New York Times spotlights the truth about toxic algae

The front page of Monday’s New York Times spotlighted a threat we contemplate every day at Friends of the Everglades: Lake Okeechobee, still full from Hurricane Ian’s deluge last fall, is now brimming with fertilizer-fueled toxic algae. That toxic algae is likely to be discharged east toward the Atlantic and west toward the Gulf of Mexico as the lake rises this rainy season, posing a threat to our environment, economy, and public health. It’s a crisis we’ve been working to resolve for years, as the government-supported sugarcane industry continues to occupy about a half-million acres south of Lake Okeechobee — impeding true restoration of the River of Grass. The story also highlights Friends of the Everglades’ commitment to science-backed solutions [...]

Everglades Illustrated: Toxic Times Ahead?

The satellite image above from June 11, 2023, presages a grim tale. The algal bloom seen here covers an estimated 440 square miles of Lake Okeechobee which, amazingly, NOAA describes as a decrease from the day before. At just over 14 feet, Lake Okeechobee is higher than anyone is comfortable with at the start of Florida’s rainy season. Comparable levels in past years have led to many billions of gallons of harmful releases to the northern estuaries. Paired with the current concentration of algae in the lake, there’s a concerning likelihood we’re headed toward another toxic summer. Friends of the Everglades spent more than three years fighting for a new lake management plan, LOSOM, that considers the risks of [...]