Studies Based on 1953 Revealed Lake Okeechobee was becoming Dangerously Hyper-Eutrophic

Today I share an excerpt form “Conclusions of the Special Project to Prevent the Eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee Relevant to the Management Determination for the Everglades Agricultural Area,”  Draft Report, State of Florida 1975. It is important that historical information like this is available to the public. It is mind-boggling that in 2023, seventy years since 1953, the issue of eutrophication of Lake Okeechobee has only worsened. Every year the estuaries are plagued by the threat of discharged toxic algae.  Reports like this one lie buried in Florida’s state archives in Tallahassee. Most legislators have probably never read it. What has been done to improve water quality is not enough.

Finding I.

Lake Okeechobee is presently enriched and moderately eutrophic. If the present trend of increasing nutrient loads from the drainage basins is not reversed, the lake could become hyper-eutrophic within the foreseeable future.

The following research evidence is proffered in support of Finding I.

  1. In 1953, Dr. H. T. Odum sampled the phosphorus content of  Lake Okeechobee and tributaries to the lake. Although not  enough samples were taken to have statistical significance, the values of the samples were well below levels consider to be eutrophic. 

In 1953, the lake’s watershed  was essentially undeveloped. The fact that the lake had low phosphate values in the water column indicates that the lake was not eutrophic in 1953. Water quality samples taken since 1953 have all shown phosphorus values higher than those taken by Odum. This indicates that present levels of phosphorus in the lake result from man’s drainage and land-use practices in the drainage basins.

Finding II. to follow….

7 thoughts on “Studies Based on 1953 Revealed Lake Okeechobee was becoming Dangerously Hyper-Eutrophic

  1. Jacqui, could you please find that table of the lake transect in the 1950’s. That info is essential to find the before channelization of the Kissimmee River and LORI’s TP work. Howard Odum treated me to lunch decades ago at UF. Great man. The only TP number I found for the Kissimmee in 1950’s was 0.060 mg/l [60 ppb]. Today the lake is 170 ppb.

  2. Thank you Jacqui for addressing the health of Lake Okeechobee. This needs to be our top priority. The reason the lake was not eutrophic in the 1950’s was because it was full of weeds. When I fished it in the 1970’s, you had to travel miles through floating water hyacinths before you could get to open water. They are still there but now they are sitting on the bottom as a thick layer of mud. There is no doubt in my mind if we can’t get the spraying stopped, this lake will die!

  3. Thank you. Your determination & knowledge is reaching far & wide. My grandchildren hear you loud & clear.

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