In the aftermath of last week’s media frenzy and State of Emergencies, let’s consider the following:
1.This year, the ACOE has been discharging from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon since January 29th, 2016. This has caused the estuary’s waters to become fresh.
2. Lake Okeechobee is a freshwater lake and this year contains a gigantic algae bloom that was first documented to be 33 square miles located in the south-eastern quadrant of the lake, on May 9th, 2016. This bloom is cyanobacteria/microcystis, a fresh water bloom. It does not grow in salt/brackish water. As the estuary has been made fresh, the cyanobacteria can grow here too. This bloom in the lake is now approximately 239 square miles as calculated by my brother Todd Thurlow. Florida Oceanographic has shared this overlay on a NOAA satalite image.
3. On May 23rd, 2016, Martin County reported that a sample was taken by DEP (The Florida Department of Environmental Protection) upstream of S-308 at Port Mayaca, at 24.4 micrograms per liter (mpl) qualifying as a threat to human health by the World Health Organization’s limit of 10 micrograms per liter. According to Mark Perry two more samples were taken on June 15th and came back at 280 mpl and 387 mpl. The government obviously knew this bloom was toxic, but they kept dumping and did not warn people of what could occur.
4. As the the river was becoming full of algae, on May 30th, 2016 my husband Ed Lippisch flew over S-80 taking photos of algae going through S-80 into the east side of the C-44 canal and into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This was done again later by Dr Scott Kuhns. The algae has been coming through for months.
5. More photos were taken and shared to document the bloom in the lake on June 26, 2016 as citizen were concerned about algae bloom in the St Lucie River and even beaches but no communication from state or federal agencies as to causes was provided. The people had to blow up before the government would do anything.
6. By June 29th, 2016 the St Lucie River’s bloom was “peaking” and blooms were reported along the river in every area of the county. People were panicking. By June 29th, 2016, finally the Martin County Commission, and then Governor Scott had called for a “State of Emergency” helpful for recovering monetary losses but not for health protections or stopping the discharges from Lake O.
7. After emergency state, ACOE’s Col Kirk toured the area and thankfully the ACOE temporarily cut back but did not stop releases to the estuaries.
8. At the tail-end of this crisis something very serious happened. This Tuesday it was reported that the bloom at Bathtub Beach tested on June 30th registered at 414 micro grams per liter. 10 qualifies as toxic. This number is off the chart. This number sits on a DEP web site but no one is discussing it. Why not?
Link to DEP Algal Bloom Monitoring and Response: https://depnewsroom.wordpress.com/south-florida-algal-bloom-monitoring-and-response/
How can something so dangerous to our citizens and wildlife not be stopped when we know where it is coming from?
Certainly our own dirty water runoff, fertilizer, and our own disgusting septic tanks exacerbate the situation, but they did not start this algae debacle. Dumping from Lake Okeechobee did. This needs to stop.
Under present water law Lake Okeechobee is does not quality as “point source pollution.” If it did a permit would be required to dump into our estuaries. The National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) is the point source discharge permit program authorized by Section 402 of the Clean Water Act.
“All point source discharges to surface waters (“Waters of the United States”) must have an NPDES permit. Permits are issued by EPA and authorized state programs.”
And the bloom? As mentioned, it is getting bigger.
Yes, according to Florida Oceanographic Society, it has grown from 33 square miles to approximately 239 square miles, almost half the lake.
Maybe if it fills the entire lake it won’t only be point source pollution, but the government will get the point. The government is now regretfully poisoning its own people. Laws must be changed. The state’s pluming must be changed. Lake Okeechobee is definitely the point–the point of our point source pollution.
Link to NPDES: https://www.epa.gov/npdes
Latest Coverage via Florida Oceanographic Society:
Watch Full Video of WPBF 25 News Special: Algae Crisis from 7/6
Reeking, Oozing Algae Closes South Florida Beaches, New York Times
Toxic Algae Bloom Severely Impacts Local Businesses, CNN
Florida’s Biggest Lake Fouls Coastlines, Orlando Sentinel
Scientist Cautions Blue-Green Algae Can Have Serious Health Impact, WPBF News
Toxic Algae Bloom Crisis Hits Florida, Drives Away Tourists, Tampa Bay Times
Algae Stink Mucking Up Beaches, Business, Stuart Residents Say, WFTV News
6 thoughts on “Lake Okeechobee is Definitely “Point Source Pollution,” SLR/IRL”
Breaks my heart. Keep the important documentation up! Thank you for continuing to get out there and photographing it,
Why doesn’t Lake O quailfy as Point Source Pollution?
So what do we do about it candidate Jackie?
Document, talk with lawyers, keep raising awareness, push, educate, get into positions to have more influence
The remedy, most of all, is to send the bums who allowed this walking, like Negron and Harrell. They ‘ve been quiet as mice for a decades while good citizens have screamed into the wind for help.
What’s really surprising to me is that Visit Florida is not speaking up on this topic. They’re all too happy to comment about how Brexit and the Brazilian economy will have an effect on our tourism. What about blue-green algae?
I want the Florida I grew up with back. I remember not only fishing on the St Lucie RIver but on Lack Okchobee too. Unfortunately, those in power care about dollars not emotions. So, here’s some dollars.
According to Visit Florida, tourism represented $89 billion to Florida last year. According to Florida Dept of Agriculture, sugar brought in $799 million.
Are we willing to loose tourism income due to an industry that brings in < 1% of the states business?