Teamwork’s Success, Reporting S-308’s Toxic Algae Bloom to the State and ACOE, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

The collective teamwork of the SLR/IRL River Movement has had a tremendous effect on state agencies such as the ACOE and SFWMD. "KEEP THE GATES CLOSED!" (Photo of  River Warrior and River Kidz mom, Cristina Maldonado, donning her homemade protest shirt at the St Lucie Locks and Dam River Rally. Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2013.)
The collective teamwork of the SLR/IRL River Movement has had a tremendous effect on state agencies such as the ACOE and SFWMD. “KEEP THE GATES CLOSED!” (Photo of River Warrior and River Kidz mom, Cristina Maldonado, donning her homemade protest shirt at the St Lucie Locks and Dam River Rally. Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2013.)

Today I want to share what I consider a huge recent success of the River Movement and our ability to network and work together to protect our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

On August 25th, Jensen Beach activist Jackie Trancynger sent out an email blast featuring a photograph taken by Paul Shidel of an awful looking algae bloom he found while photographing birds at Port Mayaca. Port Mayaca is where structure S-308 is located that allows water from Lake Okeechobee to be released into the C-44 canal to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

Here’s the photo. You may recall reading about it in one of my previous blogs or seeing it in an email exchange:

August 24, 2014 photograph of blue-green algae bloom east of S-308, Lake Okeechobee/C-44 Canal area/ (Photo courtesy of Paul Shindel.
August 24, 2014 photograph of blue-green algae bloom east of S-308, Lake Okeechobee/C-44 Canal area/ (Photo courtesy of Paul Shidel.)

So anyway after I saw the photo,  I called Jackie Trancynger and got Paul Shidel’s email in order to verify the location of the bloom-certainly appearing to be toxic algae. Paul not only verified the location but provided a map!

Map of algae bloom's location on east side of S-308, C-44 canal. (Paul Schindel.)
Map of algae bloom’s location on east side of S-308, C-44 canal. (Paul Schidel.)

On Tuesday, August 26, I participated as I have for almost two years now, in the ACOE Periodic Scientists Call in my capacity as an elected official from the Town of Sewall’s Point at the invitation of Ms Deb Drum, who oversees Martin County’s Ecosystem Restoration & Management Division.

During this call I sent Paul’s photo and map to the ACOE stating concern that if S-308 were opened this possibly toxic algae would head straight into our SRL/IRL.

Then an amazing thing happened..

The ACOE ask the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to test the algae.

Yesterday, Deb Drum from Martin County reported that the testing came back positive as “Microcystis, a toxic blue-green algae.” The county in turn notified the ACOE that the algae exists in that location to document their concern.  If the ACOE  were to open the locks at S-308, the algae could travel downstream with the water flow into the SLR/IRL. This knowledge could  actually make a difference in a decision of the ACOE to open up those structures. 

Wow. Thank you Paul!

I  have complained before on the ACOE call about  toxic algae being released from Lake Okeechobee as the SLR/IRL does not seem to “go toxic” from its local canals,  but only when Lake Okeechobee’s waters are unleaded to our shores. Toxic algae has been seen in the area between S-308 and S-80 many times but we need to start documenting this. Documentation is a powerful tool in changing the tide of destruction.

So thank you for your teamwork! Together we can help KEEP THEM CLOSED! The “Gates of Hell” that is…

____________________________________________________________________

REPORT:

Subject: Lake Okeechobee, Okeechobee/Glades/Hendry/Palm Beach/Martin Counties: Florida CyanoHAB Tracking Module has received a record update

On August 27, 2014, Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Southeast District staff sampled an algal bloom found in Lake Okeechobee. A single grab sample was collected of surface scum at the Port Myakka Lock (C-44.) Following are the laboratory results for this sample:

Result:
Class
Toxin potential *
The dominant taxon was:
Microcystis aeruginosa
Class Cyanophyceae
yes

Other taxa present:
Dolichospermum circinale **
Class Cyanophyceae
yes
Pseudanabaena sp.
Class Cyanophyceae
undetermined
Eudorina elegans
Class Chlorophyceae

Pediastrum simplex
Class Chlorophyceae

Glenodinium sp.
Class Dinophyceae

* Information based on literature searches and personal communications; information is continually being updated. “Undetermined” refers to specimens for which the lowest practical level of taxonomic identification is genus and some, but not all, species within that genus have the potential to produce toxins or toxin information not available for the identified species but is available for genus level.

** Dolichospermum circinale (synonym = Anabaena circinalis)

 

 

 

17 thoughts on “Teamwork’s Success, Reporting S-308’s Toxic Algae Bloom to the State and ACOE, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

  1. “The Gates of Hell”
    I like those strong words lady. We have to stay fearless and tiredless and it “Ain’t” easy. As I think of those poor dolphins and all other animals and species I also thought of the “Gates of Death”. Jtl please keep these writings going. I never realized how powerful the pic was and what a person can do until you wrote this and told us. So happy they verified the sample of algae bloom. And you made that phone call to make it happen. TY TY – death death death- oh how scared and mad and sad I get sometimes about our goverment allowing this death to happen.

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  2. I remember seeing this picture and sort of glossing over the article. I’m ashamed to admit that at the time, I felt like “Oh well…, here’s yet another awful example of the crap that’s going on and there’s nothing I can do about it”. How very wrong I was.

    Thank you Jacqui for never giving in to the frustration and the sometimes seemingly impossible situation that has unfortunately been thrust upon us. Thanks also to Ms. Transinger and especially Mr. Shidel for demonstrating the power in exposing the truth.
    What an amazing collaboration and effort on every ones part – truly inspirational!

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  3. With photo documentation, maps and reporting in public venues, this problem can no longer be ignored. Thanks to all who cared enough to document and share this with officials. Keep up the good work. I’m proud of you all.

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  4. Thank you Jacqui, for your acknowledgement earlier; it means alot to me.

    It’s shameful that you had to point this, out to DEP and the ACOE; isn’t this their responsibility?

    I’d never expect a government agency to be embarrassed, but I can tell you that if, a customer of mine ever took a picture of their roof looking dirty (when we unconditionally guarantee them to stay clean 24/7 – 365 day’s a year) and then published it on a social media site – I sure would be embarrassed!

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      1. Of course…, nor do I believe in the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny either, but there’s something terribly wrong with the “system” when individuals, who hold themselves to a higher standard, must take a greater responsibility in self preservation, than the publicly (tax funded) agencies who are supposedly entrusted with protecting and enforcing such things as the Clean Water Act and pollution control standards.

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