My husband, Ed Lippisch, flew today from Clewiston to Port Mayaca, 6-10-20, 9:30 am, and this was the view of all southern Lake Okeechobee: giant steaks of cyanobacteria also known as blue-green algae. Unfortunately, pictures such as these have become commonplace and definitely existed years before we realized the frequency or the accompanying scary health issues.
“Eutrophication and non-point pollution,” words found in Florida’s scientific literature since the 1970s, have documented and warned of the deteriorating state of Florida’s water quality -due especially to agricultural fertilizer and residential fertilizer runoff. Recently elected Governor Ron DeSantis and the SFWMD have very much addressed this issue and I encourage all governmental agencies to become even more strict regarding such. We must do more. The greatest help of all could continue to come from increasing restrictions and documentation on non-point pollution supported by our state legislature. Programs such as “Be Floridian” and Florida’s Department of Agriculture’s Best Management Practices are noteworthy, but obviously, they are not enough.
The most important thing for coastal residents along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee to know is that the cyanobacteria is there, and fight accordingly. Presently, Lake Okeechobee is at 12.10 NGVD and in spite of recent torrential rains there is no pressure for the ACOE to discharge. If a hurricane such as last year’s Dorian comes to visit, it will be a different story.
I am sad to see these eutrophic waters, but forever grateful to my husband, Ed, who since 2013, has been our eye in the sky.