Holding Lake Okeechobee’s Algae at Bay

My husband, Ed, was able to fly the Baron yesterday. As the plane has been in service, we have not taken photos of Lake Okeechobee or the St Lucie River from a higher altitude in almost two months.

Because the satellite images have been showing Lake Okeechobee’s bloom lessening, I wasn’t sure what Ed would find. Well, he found a large blue-green algae bloom right outside the gates of Port Mayaca at S-308.

http://eyeonlakeo.com/NCCOS%20HAB%20Images/index.html via Todd Thurlow

On his way back to Stuart, he also took pictures of the St Lucie Inlet showing plentiful seagrass recovery near the Sandbar at the confluence of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, the ocean/river looking blue and inviting ~ not like the black coffee sediment and toxic nutrient-filled discharges seen recently in 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018.

I am thankful to the ACOE and all involved for this summer’s reprieve. The Saint Lucie River really needed it!

We must keep in mind that with all of the recent rain, of course, Lake Okeechobee is rising. Today lake is at 12.99 feet. Hopefully, in the coming and most active months of hurricane season, there will not be a tropical system that could rapidly increase the lake level. In years past hurricanes have brought as much as three or four feet. There are many factors, but usually, the ACOE starts releasing at 15.5 feet to protect the Herbert Hoover Dike’s integrity and those living south and in the shadow of our diked lake.

Humans may have figured out how to “control” the state’s water, but Mother Nature holds the final card.

SFWMD 8-19-19


LAKE OKEECHOBEE AT PORT MAYACA AND LAKE O’S N.E. RIM SHOWING ALAGE BLOOM. IF S-308 were open, this bloom and freshwater that sustains blooms would be pouring into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. Photos by Ed Lippisch 3-18-19.

Lake O

N.E. Lake Okeechobee and Rim Canal

Boat tracks through algae bloom off Port Mayaca


Looking toward Lake Okeechobee at S-80, A.K.A. “The Seven Gates of Hell.” These gates can be opened by the ACOEO to discharge water from Lake O into the St Lucie River.  Photo Ed Lippisch 8-18-19.

C-44 Canal connects Lake Okeechobee to St Lucie River, photo Ed Lippisch 8-18-19


ST LUCIE RIVER/INDIAN RIVER LAGOON AT ST. LUCIE INLET showing nearshore reefs, blue waters, and recovering seagrasses ~even with high local rains and discharges from canals C-23, and C-24. This area between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point was once considered the most bio-diverse in North America. This year, 2019, there have been no discharges from Lake Okeechobee allowing the area to begin to recover from years of destructive discharges from Lake Okeechobee.

St Lucie Inlet at the confluence of SLR/IRL, #Clean2019

Darker shades are recovering seagrasses!

Flight Aware Track:

SFWMD canal and basin map. C-44 canal is the canal most southerly in the image and connected to Lake Okeechobee.

23 thoughts on “Holding Lake Okeechobee’s Algae at Bay

  1. We are very lucky to be able to see what Lake Okeechobee actually looks like from Ed Lippisch’s airplane, supplemented by Todd Thurlow’s eyeonlakeo government images and Jacqui’s commentary. I am very proud of “my children.”

  2. You are aware the bloom in the Lake at the structure is probably caused by the back flow of polluted water from the basin into the Lake? Water has been flowing west into the Lake for some time. That flow will change to eastward soon as the Lake rises.

    Sent from my iPhone


  3. Thanks again for your husband’s pictures of the bloom. I hope the SFWMD officially thanks the USACE for their common sense draw down of the lake level during this past winter dry season in order to minimize summer wet season discharges that contain much higher cyanobacteria levels. One way the SFWMD can thank the USACE is to file an Amicus Curiae supporting the USACE against the recently filed lawsuit by USS Sugar.

  4. Now all these overpaid scientest need to run to the dollar store and buy paper and coloring cryons to make charts and graphs to show how much phosporus and nitrogen is going to be released into the vast Atlantic ocean.

    1. Do you also believe these releases have nothing to do with the closed beaches because of high bacteria levels? Where do you think that bacteria coming from, England?

  5. Dear Ms. Lippisch,
    As I had mentioned to you in the past, this has been going on for over 30 years, and in my letters to the Stuart News letters to the Editor, comments at the Martin county Commission much of this pollution is coming down the Kissimmee and the Chattahoochee Rivers.
    When it appears the water is clearing because of a lot of rain like we have had recently, the algae sinks to the bottom or just below the surface, then when they open the St. Lucie Locks and other outlets that algae gets sucked into our St. Lucie Lagoon and Indian Rivers.

    So to me nothing has changed and as a matter of fact in some ways it looks worse when we view the airplane photos I saw recently taken.
    These photo’s show the algae just below the surface, and far enough from the locks to make it appear that pollution won’t effect us immediately, but when the water level gets higher, and if the rain continues, we will have the same problems with pollution like we have had in the past.

    The only way to defeat this algae problem is to attack it at the source so it doesn’t come down the Rivers I mentioned, before it gets into Lake Okeechobee, it’s the only way.
    Even if you are successful stopping the pollution at the source, it will take time before we will see long term results, but we must start now before it becomes to late and all of Lake Okeechobee is polluted.
    If the Lake is effected like I just mentioned, not only will there be lots of fish kill, but the businessmen all around the Lake will be effected, and I’m sure you don’t want that, i.e. people who depend on clean water, to support their fishing and boating businesses.

      1. This is exactly the same responses I received from the Pro-Growth Commissioners at meetings when they had excuses not to do anything to the Rivers I commented on,
        These Pro-Growth Commissioners had a growth at any price attitude which hasn’t changed in over thirty years, now that the Rivers are in the same condition years later, we are reaping the results of that inaction.
        If you doubt me, ask environmentalist Commissioners Sarah Heard, Ed Fielding, and Donna Melzer, they will remember my presentations at Commission meetings years ago regarding Lake O pollution.

        Warning comments are still echoing in those chambers, but falling on deaf pro-growth ears. Nothing will change until we stop that pollution before it gets into Lake Okeechobee from the Kissimmee and Chattahoochee Rivers, and stop blaming Martin county septic tanks, because that polluted water enters Lake Okeechobee a long time before it even gets to Martin county. The septic tanks along the Kissimmee & Chattahoochee Rivers should be inspected for leakage into these Rivers.

        We also have to continue to improve the water condition like Governor DeSantis has started by sending it south through a holding or purifying Lake he is constructing, then sending it slowly south, and emptying into the Everglades much cleaner.

        My hat is off to Governor DeSantis for his stand on Big Sugar, and facing them down when acquiring the land necessary to dig that holding lake.
        I’m happy that we have a Governor who is looking out for the State of Florida biggest resource, i.e. our water clean again, so that fishing can be enjoyed by everyone.

        Environmentalists said over 30 years ago it’s the only way to turn that polluted water into clean water again, I’m convinced that Governor DeSantis will attain that goal.

        Thank You Governor Ron DeSantis.

      2. Thurlow-Lippisch,

        The only reason you and others see pollution getting better or less polluted, is because of all the rain we had this summer, but what happened to all that polluted water, it washed up in our public beaches through the outlets.
        The water mixed with polluted fresh water, was so polluted when mixed with salty sea water, the beaches also became polluted, some of them were closed this past summer of 2019.
        If you think that’s progress it’s just political speak, in other words, “don’t blame me, blame the man behind the tree”.

        Joe Florio

  6. Just came back from mouth of goat creek this morning. Coquina formations are trying to come back. Water is dark–dark brown and foam was 2-3 foot high from slight ripple wave action Of couse there was tremdous life—both bird and fish.

  7. Hello thank you for all the work that you do for our waterways I was at Hobe Sound National wildlife beach yesterday morning and the huge dark water came down south from the inlet.  The water was a gorgeous clear color so beautiful but before noon, the dark water was moving south.  terrible do you know if they are dumping the lake already? thank you winnie woodward

  8. I think it is sad that everyone lives in their fantasy internet world these days. Today I sliced my finger cutting bait and am thankfull for the pain to make me pay attention to the real world around me. Right now water is swift in brown rain water streams. This brown water is NOT poison but where life will begin—for the lagoon and the ocean. Many thousands of catfish are wipeing out all the baby creatures at the mouths of these streams right now. This is the result of millions of fishermen throwing them back because they have no food value (not sailcat). It will take time and hard work but maby—just maby I can flip the balance in favor of the blue crab which will protect all the baby creatures. I will use the catfish for fertilizer.

  9. Yesterday morning and this morning I caught catfish after catfish untill I filled a 5 gallon bucket. What is critical about this is there was no redfish—trout—baifish—nothing but catfish. It may be more than I can do—there might be a million of them. One thing for sure is there are 2— 5 gallons buckets less slaugtering the snook minnows—baby blue crabs and other baby gamefish. The only thing I have seen our state gov. do is point fingers and pester the liveing crap out of people.

  10. The only people I ever pestered are to folks that were responsible for this pollution, or in a position that could say something to TRY to correct it, but they choose sit on the hands and do nothing, because they can’t take the political credit for doing it, so they do nothing.
    Ever heard the old saying “It’s not my job”? That’s just one excuse…
    Politics today is more or less a dirty word, and something we might agree on, but that’s the way it was 35 years ago, and it’s still the same way today.

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