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 [...]
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 [...]
Take a look at the photo above. This aerial image, taken by Ed Lippisch of Sewall’s Point, is part of a series he captured while flying over the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon in the early afternoon on February 8 — 17 days after Lake Okeechobee discharges conducted by the Army Corps of Engineers and supported by the South Florida Water Management District started in an effort to lower the lake. The impact is striking. Dark plumes of polluted Lake O water invade the local waters traversed and lived along by residents of Martin County, drastically impacting water quality. Blue water seen here clearly illuminates the barren moonscapes of Stuart’s shallow-water sandbars, which were once lush with [...]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qs-Ih6G7cE Watch the video above. Manatees drift lazily through shallow, jewel-toned waters, not far from paddle boarders out on a clear, sunny morning typical of the Florida winters that draw so many new faces (and license plates). Stuart’s Sailfish Flats generally encompass are a beloved area where the Indian River Lagoon meets the St. Lucie River. For years, this confluence of waterways has been recognized as both a recreational playground and an angler’s paradise — its aquamarine water and sandbars as famous as the once-lush seagrass meadows that historically served as a foundational ecosystem for a spectacular and renowned fishery. The water in this video is beautiful, but even as we appreciate these moments of zen, we are reminded [...]
Satellite image of the Sailfish Flats in Stuart, FL, courtesy of eyeonlakeo.com The compilation of images above shows satellite imagery of the Sailfish Flats in Stuart, Florida, during the summer months of 2018, 2019 and just recently in 2022. They tell a story of slow but sure recovery. Across Florida, the summer of 2018 was a nightmare for water. To the east and the west, a stew of toxic blue-green algae-laden water from Lake Okeechobee was discharged in both directions. People and pets got sick, marine animals died by the tons (literally), businesses suffered and the most destructive red tide in years persisted along the west coast with the help from the constant source of nutrients. In Stuart, [...]
Scenes from the St. Lucie Lock and Dam captured Monday morning, November 9. Last week, the Army Corps of Engineers predicted that heavy rain from Tropical Storm Eta could raise the level of Lake Okeechobee by as much as 10 inches, suggesting that up to a month more of lake discharges to the northern estuaries may be necessary. The St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries have already suffered immense damage from the current Lake Okeechobee discharges. These delicate ecosystems cannot withstand another month of harm.
Scenes from the St. Lucie Lock and Dam captured Friday morning, October 16. Releases from Lake Okeechobee began Wednesday, October 14 at a rate of 1,800 cfs out of S-80 east to the St. Lucie estuary. The Army Corps reports that releases east are being pulsed at S-80 in an effort to have the lowest flow days at the peak of the King Tides this week.
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 [...]
Today, Friends of the Everglades stood with Congressman Brian Mast in front of the St. Lucie River in support of his newly-introduced legislation. The bill aims to prohibit toxic discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon when microcystin exceeds the EPA recreational limit of 8 parts per billion. An advanced copy of the bill can be viewed here. With each passing year, we have accumulated more scientific evidence confirming the serious health threats posed by toxic algae blooms. Yet it’s still legally permissible to flood our communities with this toxic water. That's inexcusable. Congressman Mast’s legislation aims to stop that. These are not partisan issues. They are commonsense public-health protections. We support Congressman [...]
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; [...]