What Agency is Responsible for Tracking Toxic Algae Blooms in Lake Okeechobee? SLR/IRL

This image shows that an algae bloom was in Lake Okeechobee on April 14, 2015.
This image shows that an algae bloom was in Lake Okeechobee on April 14, 2015.

I must drive to Ft Pierce this morning so I do not have very much time to write– this post will be short and undeveloped, but you’ll get the idea.

Yesterday, I received information from a very reliable person, and it is making me wonder…

“The information” is the image above showing an algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee on 4-14-15. I don’t know why it says “unvalidated data,” but if you look at it closely it shows an algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee. I was told this image and an algae report can be found on the “Lake Okeechobee Operations” page of the South Florida Water Management District.

If this is true, and I  believe it is, why didn’t the public or the local governments hear about this bloom before 4-24-15? Also, who is really in charge of this information? Yes, I was told it can be found on the South Florida Water Management’s web site, but then it is the Army Corp of Engineers, a federal agency, that is responsible for opening the S-308 structure at Lake Okeechobee to release water when “necessary” into the C-44/St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon….(The SFWMD is a state agency….ACOE is federal…..)

Are the state and federal agencies talking? Why isn’t the ACOE “in charge of the water” if they dump it? I don’t get it….

The bottom line is the information is “out there.” It was known to both the state and federal agencies that an algae bloom was in Lake Okeechobee before Kenny Hinkle and Mike Connor’s video spurred outrage along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and the ACOE was contacted by citizens and Senator Joe Negron and made the decision not to open S-308 this past Friday. This has come up in more places than one.

I am happy “they” didn’t open the gate, but I am confused why we didn’t hear about the very large algae bloom earlier.

I don’t get it. Am I naive? Am I becoming a crazy conspiracy theorist? Is this information purposefully not being shared, and if so who is not sharing it?

Is the government above our heads? If so we must change this. We must become in charge of this information for ourselves as it is public’s information paid for by our tax dollars.

I think we must push for a web cam at the gates of the lake that we, the public, can easily access and EASY access to the website that has live maps of algae blooms. As I have stated, I believe this information is here now, but how do we access it?

The information for blooms knows as HABs, or Harmful Algae Blooms, must be EASILY available to all citizens. I believe that the Florida Wildlife Commission, FWC, also had a very developed program and WEBSITE AREA on algae blooms because in the past as I even wrote about it in a previous blog. I seems like their committee kind of died off for some reason….

HABs are a problem all over the world, and they can be spotted with satellite imagery. They should be spotted for all of us. Unfortunately, this is the “now” and this is the future.

In the age of information, you’d think if would be “easier than this,” but is not. We must control our destiny, if we are to protect our lives and our property. The government is not doing this as it should be. They may not even really know this as they have been not doing it for so long….Very, very, sad.

Sorry to ramble, but you get the idea.


LINKS but where is the answer?





An earlier blog on HABs: (http://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/08/28/harmful-algal-blooms-habs-st-lucie-riverindian-river-lagoon/)


28 thoughts on “What Agency is Responsible for Tracking Toxic Algae Blooms in Lake Okeechobee? SLR/IRL

  1. Jacqui, why am I not shocked? HAB’s are rampant nationwide and rarely make the news cycle unless WE insist on it.

    1. I’m afraid we’ll see more frequent and severe blooms as the State deliberately reduces efforts to control the pollution of Lake Okeechobee, e.g., both houses of the Legislature passed HB7003 which removes deadlines for cleanup and weakens regulatory programs (fortunately the bill is dormant for now but could be revised). We all need to write our legislators and Gov. Scott pressing them to re-commit to reducing nutrient pollution of the Lake to achieve the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) ASAP and not rely on the ineffective Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP)!

  2. Very, very interesting.
    You’re absolutely correct and I believe whoever gave you this information may also be able to help you/us pursue it further. In reading the links provided one thing that’s certain, are the abundant monitoring systems in place around the lake, yet it seems that very little enforcement or reporting appears to be taking place. The fact that in 2013 (and since) this critical health information was easily available to SFWMD and was not made public by them or DEP is very alarming. You’re right, we deserve much better.

  3. I am not surprised Jacqui, we have been having very warm/ hot temperatures all winter and with the high ‘ nutrients’ pollution in lake O, and since they had halted the discharges for a bit the water had sat there , I think we were lucky the bloom started there and not in the river , or some would say” it is the septic tanks” BUT NO IT IS THE ‘NUTRIENTS’, pollution from the lake and the hot weather that causes the algae bloom to occur and they were going to just keep it mum and discharge that water and again to ‘ HECK’ with the clean water act and our estuary and everything in it and all of us who live here. HABs are happening all over the world, not just nationwide, I have seen pictures of algae blooms over in China so thick you drown in them. We can not become numb to this we have to continue to fight and stay proactive.

  4. Excellent point. Just now during the River Coalition meeting, Darrell Brand read the e-mail given to him by Tyler Treadway. The discharges will start again tomorrow. The ACOE rationale is that the flowing water and salt water will dissipate the fresh water algae. Flawed thinking because the fresh water will just push itself (and the algae) into the middle estuary and under the Roosevelt Bridge like during the “Lost Summer.” AND it is only May! The heat of the summer and the rain from the wet season hasn’t even occurred yet. Got to get the Federal Government on board and accountable, the State level is useless.

  5. Right, Jacqui, Sen. Negron and his statt should have been all over this much earlier. Its one more showing that the pols basically answer to Big Surgar’s dollarss. Very sad.

  6. The important thing is if Sen. Negron, SFWM, DEP or anyone else needs to have this information and can alert our public health departments, then lets make sure they get it. Jacqui’s question: Knowing what agency is responsible for this information and how they deal with HAB’s is a good place to start. If in fact no one is doing anything about it, or like the breakdown of communications between the FBI and the CIA before and after 9/11, then we’ll have to do it ourselves.

  7. This is not the age of information—I think it is the age of disinformation. In Russia they don’t have many carrots so they have to use the stick a lot. Hear if it were not for political funding I think newspapers would be worse off than the Post Office—neither can compete with the internet.A couple of days ago. The front page said OUR LAGOON IS DEATHLY ILL and down under that in smaller letters it said BUT TIME ,MONEY and POLITICS CAN BE THE CURE.I could not have said it better—time money and politics is exactly what has killed the lagoon and now its going to be the cure?

  8. Culvert that had phosphorus was about 120 foot long 15foot wide and about 8 foot high after they cleaned it out.Workers did not know they were pumping out phosphorus( every day ) from the way the IRL used to be 30 years ago. At night it was obvious the phosphorus was ‘thick’ from the intense glow. Minnows were allways thick as soup on both sides of the culvert All living creatures need phosphorus and as long calcium and acid can create oxygen –I don’t think there is no limit to how much phosphorus you can have.

  9. What is toxic is not the algie but any chemicals that are being preserved in acid. This is why I was worred that chemicals in drinking water might not be detected if there is not oxygen in water to activate them.

  10. Here is something else to think about—If you put calcium around mouths of canals going to water sugar cain this should nutrilize the acid and release the nutriants and instead of have a massive algie bloom in the lake sugar cain would consume all the nutriants

  11. Geese—- I just had a bad thought. The biggest cost to farmers is fertilizer. Suppose farmers already know about this and have turned Lake O into a giant liquid fertilizer storage

  12. I put beach sand at several of our flood gates and water could not have been more polluted Almost immediately foam started. Now they are a haven for baby snook and baby tarpin. It has been several years now and water always has foam

  13. It will be a long hard road to go but at least now I believe you are on the right track

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