Tag Archives: dept of health

Looking Out for Ourselves, Landsat Satellite Photos of Lake O’s Algae Blooms, SLR/IRL

 

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Landsat satellite photo of Lake Okeechobee 7-26-16.

I believe in not being dependent on the federal or state government, but what recently happened along the St Lucie River is ridiculous…

In the months following the June 29th, 2016 “State of Emergency”and toxic algae bloom invasion of the St Lucie River, one thing is clear. Our federal and state governments did not look out for Martin County’s best interests, instead knowlingly discharging toxic algae from the lake into the communities along the St Lucie River— with out so much as “public-peep”— until real tragedy and helath risks had struck. Then suddenly, it was like: “Oh my, where did all this algae come from?”

Well, it happened knowingly because the state and federal government (ACOE/SFWMD/ DEP/ Florida Dept of Health) knew Lake Okeechobee was not “popping” here and there with a few algae blooms as is often the case, but rather was”covered in the stuff.”

By July 2nd commonly distributed government satellite images, like the one above, were showing over 200 square miles of algae bloom that obviously had to grow over time to attain such prominance.

Anyway…the least “they” could have done was to have given the public fair warning to be careful and ready as is standard operating proceedure during a drought when wild-fire conditions are present.

But they did not.

Instead, the Department of Environmental Protection quietly took its tests, reporting to the District and the Army Corp– at their leisure— the few results they attained…They should have warned the county government of more than a bloom here and there. They should have told everyone that a dangerous situation was getting ready to occur. But they did not. Maybe they thought it wouldn’t  happen? I doubt it. This is true negligence considering the first duty of government is health, saftey and welfare of the people it levies taxes from…

Thus today, I am sharing a brief exchange between my very technically-savvy brother, attorney, Todd Thurlow, and me, from earlier this week. Todd’s shared images will help us look out for ourselves. Thankfully, the recent Landsat satellite images of Lake Okeechobee, for now, look much clearer of algae than just a few months ago.

The link below the exchange will allow you see the satellite images of the lake over time, dates are also present:

Jacqui

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7-27-16 Email exchange:

Jacqui: Do the satellite images show any more algae in the lake? J

Todd: I might see some in the southwest quadrant but not definitive. As mentioned before, unfortunately, Landsat 7 has a broken instrument that causes the black lines on the image.

Todd

7-26-16:
(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Landsat%2030m%20Resolution/index.html#LE70150412016208EDC01%2520-%2520Crop.jpg)

Full Resolution:
(http://www.thurlowpa.com/LakeOImagery/Landsat%2030m%20Resolution/LE70150412016208EDC01%20-%20Crop.jpg)

Lake Event 2016, “Worse than a Third World Country,” May-SLR/IRL

Front page Stuart News 5-27-16
Front page Stuart News 5-27-16 by Tyler Treadway.
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Today I have posted pictures from the front page of the Stuart News, and I am also providing Dr Gary Goforth’s “Lake Event Update” for May 2016. This report gives an update on nutrient, sediment, and polluting fresh water loads into the St Lucie Estuary from Lake  Okeechobee.  Numbers from Lake O are at/or close to “Lost Summer “2013 levels now.

Today, the ACOE reports Lake Okeechobee at 14.38 feet – a very high level going into hurricane/rainy season beginning June 1st.

(http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/currentLL.shtml )

Thus the Army Corp of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District, with the knowledge of other state agencies and entities such as the Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Legislature, and the Governor will be opening the flood gates to begin releasing more water from the lake today.

Cyanobacteria of toxic levels (as determined by the World Health Organization) is now reported in the lake and canals leading to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. This is a fresh water bloom and as the estuary becomes more fresh from lake releases the bloom will be able to survive throughout the river and estuary.  I do not understand how this is legal in spite of the safety issues of the dike. The federal government in cooperation with our state government is knowingly releasing toxic algae into our waterways –Worse than a third world country.

Jacqui

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CONDITIONS REPORT, DR GARY GOFORTH

SLR/IRL conditions report, Dr Gary Goforth 5-26-16 http://garygoforth.net
With poor water quality conditions in the Lake, the nutrient and sediment loads to the River/Estuary have already exceeded the 2013 Lake event. Feeding the bloom …

Since January 30, 2016:
Nitrogen – more than 1.6 million pounds
Phosphorus – more than 190,000 pounds
Sediment – more than 34 million pounds

Average flow – more than a billion gallons per day …

 

(Please click on slides to enlarge.)

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Drawing the Line, Toxic Algae Releases, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Toxic algae bloom at the gates of S-308 Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee, 4-28-15.
Toxic algae bloom at the gates of S-308 Port Mayaca, Lake Okeechobee, 4-28-15.(JTL)

The word is out. There have been sightings of bright green, toxic-looking algae in Palm City,  just two weeks after the Army Corp of Engineers, with the blessing of state agencies, began releasing toxic waters from Lake Okeechobee. Such has been the fate for many years for our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, but now we’re “on it.”

As we continue to document this issue, we can draw the line on abuses from Lake Okeechobee, and promote change within the law.

What is the procedure for our government to “dump toxic algae” anyway?

Well, at this point according to my research, the process goes something like this:

–the South Florida Water Management District test water quality at various locations in Lake Okeechobee; if they see a substantial algae bloom, they contact the Department of Environmental Protection, DEP, a state agency, who then test for toxins; if the bloom is toxic, the DEP then contacts the Florida Department of Health who together with DEP is responsible for communicating with others such as the Florida Wildlife Commission, local governments, the public and the Army Corp of Engineers. Then if the bloom is not too much of a health hazard…the blessing is given to the ACOE to dump.

How quaint…what teamwork, don’t you think?

I think our state and federal agencies have dumped many times with out us really understanding what was happening and we thought the algae was coming just from our own watershed….certainly the problems of our own, over-enlarged watershed exacerbate the situation, but there is no question the microcystis species of algae comes from the lake and that the lake has poisoned our estuary over the years so the bacteria/algae is latent in the fresher areas of our river now, at all times….

Anyway, as we have seen this round of releases, the ACOE and the state agencies decided on May 1st to release the toxic algae into the St Lucie River even after a call regarding the toxic algae from Senator Joe Negron, and inquiries from Congressman Patrick Murphy’s office. After great study, and determining the bloom was toxic, but not “too toxic,” the various state agencies determined the salinity in the St Lucie River would “break up the bloom,” a freshwater bloom known as microcystis that can only grow in the lake. So then the ACOE opened the gates.

For two weeks the fresh waters of Lake Okeechobee have flowed through S-308 and S-80 into the C-44 canal into the St Lucie River….

S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam, photo by Dr Scott Kunhs, 2013.
S-80 at St Lucie Locks and Dam, photo by Dr Scott Kunhs, 2013.

And as our estuary becomes fresh, losing salinity due to these freshwater releases, the microcystis species of algae can now grow and reproduce in the river. In 2013, the river was so fresh that even at the Crossroads of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, off of south Sewall’s Point, toxic microcystis blooms blossomed from shore to 40 feet off the peninsula– a peninsula that basically sits inside the mouth of the St Lucie Inlet!

We must remember as mad as we are, not to kill the messenger….

Our state and federal agencies are the “messenger,” as well as the “executioner,” in this scenario. The guiltily who created this poison water of Lake Okeechobee, and how they are protected is a story for another blog, and one we all actually know quite well.

Kenny Hinkle's photo of toxic algae near S-308 in lake Okeechobee 4-24-15.
Kenny Hinkle’s photo of toxic algae near S-308 in lake Okeechobee 4-24-15.
Algae
Algae photo shared on Facebook, Rivers Coalition, Diana Pegrum,  Palm City 5-18-15.
Photo Ch 12 reporter Jana Ensbach shared on Facebook 5-18-15.
Photo Ch 12 reporter Jana Eschbach shared on Facebook 5-18-15.

DEP History and condition of C-44 canal: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/C-44%20Canal%20.pdf)

DEP:(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/water/bgalgae/faq.htm)

Florida Dept. Health: (http://www.floridahealth.gov/environmental-health/aquatic-toxins/cyanobacteria.html)

Florida Wildlife Commission: (http://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/health-disease/other-wildlife/cyanobacteria/)

SFWMD -no information came up for my SFWMD search on this subject: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

ACOE (HABs) Questions and Answers:(http://www.lrl.usace.army.mil/Portals/64/docs/CWProjects/WaterQuality/General%20Lake%20Questions%20and%20Answers%20on%20Algae%20Blooms.pdf)

Understanding Cyanobacteria or Toxic Algae: (https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2015/05/05/understanding-cyanobacteria-or-toxic-algae-slrirl/)