Tag Archives: MCHD

April Fools? ACOE Temporarily Halts Lake O Flow for WQ Bacteria Testing, SLR/IRL

S-80 (Structure 80) along the C-44 canal in Martin County sits still. The ACOE has temporarily stopped the flow from Lake Okeechobee for bacteria testing by MC. (Photo Ed Lippisch, piloted by Scott Kuhns, 4-1-15)
S-80 (Structure 80) along the C-44 canal in Martin County sits still. The ACOE has temporarily stopped the flow from Lake Okeechobee for bacteria testing by MC. (Photo Ed Lippisch; plane piloted by Scott Kuhns, 4-1-15)

While I  was at my brother and sister-in-law’s house yesterday, dropping off my niece, Mary, I heard a shriek from upstairs. Mary’s sisters had put vaseline on her door knob so that she couldn’t get inside her bedroom. I head them all yell out: APRIL FOOLS!

It brought back memories of a long forgotten youth. It was funny.

There was something else that happened yesterday, April 1st, 2015 along the Treasure Coast but it was no joke. The ACOE stopped the flow of nutrient and sediment filled Lake Okeechobee water to the St Lucie River/Southern Indian River Lagoon—-TEMPORARILY.

This is actually an amazing example of something good in world that seems dictatorial and  insensitive most of the time. During the ACOE Periodic Scientists Calls over the past weeks the stakeholders of the NOAA, Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, SRWMD, FWCC, FDEP, FDACS, City of Sanibel, Ft Meyers Beach, Lee County, Martin County, St Lucie County,  Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation, Florida Farm Bureau Federation, Audubon, other members of the public such as Mark Perry representing Florida Oceanographic, and a few I am sure I have forgotten (sorry) agreed, and weather allowed for the discharges to be halted so that Martin County can proceed with bacteria testing in hot spots of the St Lucie River.

I think this is amazing. And this gives me hope that one day there will be an agreement in other areas of our government bureaucracy to redirect and halt the damaging discharges indefinitely. Getting agreement and support on this as asked by Martin County from all agencies and stakeholders and then the final say from the ACOE was no small feat. Thank you everyone.

The rest of this blog post will show photos taken yesterday by my husband, Ed Lippisch while the plane was piloted by friend, Scott Kuhns. The photos show the S-80 structure that connects Lake Okeechobee to the St Lucie River at a standstill yesterday. A beautiful sight. Wouldn’t it be great if one day it will were a museum piece to remind us of a time when we were so were “so stupid.”

I am also sharing Martin County Health Department data on bacteria levels of enterococcus, (basically, bacteria found in human and or animal waste ). Any reading over 35 is “bad,” and shown in yellow or red. The data goes back to 2012 when Senator Negron helped increase funding for even more testing. At one point in 2013 the test site at C-23 canal was changed to the Sandbar.

Just so you know, there were releases in 2012, but I do not know the dates, it was  later in the year as I remember the River Kidz holding a protest at the Locks; in 2013 the ACOE/SFWMD dumped from  May 8th through Oct 21–this was our lost summer; in 2014 there was no dumping but you will see bacteria levels were still often high; and in 2015 the dumping starting early, January 16th and did not stop temporarily until yesterday, April 1st 2015.

The other data is from Florida Oceanographic done by their volunteer team.

Hope you had a fun April Fools and we all know that although I am in a better mood today than yesterday, the health of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, is no joke.

Long view of the C-44 canal and S-80. This canal connects Lake O to the SRL.. (Photo Ed Lippisch, 4-1-15.)
Long view of the C-44 canal and S-80. This canal connects Lake O to the SRL.. (Photo Ed Lippisch, 4-1-15.)
Another shot.
Another shot.
Water Quality report 3-16-15, FOS)
Water Quality report 3-16-15, FOS)
MCHD 3-16-15.
MCHD 3-16-15.
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FROM FLORIDA OCEANOGRAPHIC BASED ON ACOE PERIODIC SCIENTISTS CALL, both 3-26-15.

RE Martin County bacterial tracking Report:
3/26/2015 update: Samples collected on Monday, March 23, 2015 at the Roosevelt Bridge and Leighton Park Bridge (old Palm City) are still exceeding acceptable ranges for enterococcus bacteria. The advisory to avoid contact with the water at both locations is still in effect to ensure chronic conditions do not exist. Samples will be collected again on Monday, March 30, 2015.

RE Lake Okeechobee Releases:
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District will be continuing discharges at S-79 at the same level as last week. However, the target discharges are reduced at S-80. The target flows over a 7-day period will be an average of 2500 cfs at S-79 and 500 cfs at S-80 cfs. These discharges will be made in a pulse-like manner (see attached). These releases will start Friday, 27 March 2015 at 0700 hrs and end on Friday, 03 April 2015 at 0700 hrs.

RE: FOS Water Quality Report:
Upstream of the Roosevelt Bridge river conditions are much the same as last week; downstream there has been no significant improvement.

Thanks to all for your reports this week. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via waterdata@floridaocean.org .

Pam Hopkins (FOS)

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ACOE Jacksonville: (www.saj.usace.army.mil)

Martin County Health Dept.: (http://martin.floridahealth.gov/index.html)

Florida Oceanographic: (http://www.floridaocean.org)

Do the ACOE and SFWMD Release Toxic Lake O Water Into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon?

Paint colored shocking green algae at the gate entering Lake Okeechobee,     2009. (Photo from video by Jacqui thurlow-Lippisch)
Paint colored shocking green algae at the gate entering Lake Okeechobee, 2009. (Photo from video by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

I am well aware that the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon have location specific e. coli bacteria problems, as well as “overall water quality problems,” due to our local canals. This summer has been a great example of such with our SLR/IRL waters colored putrid brown all the way to the St Lucie Inlet just from releases from C-44, C-23, and C-24 canal basin runoff releases.

This is why it is beyond my comprehension, that with such terrible local water issues, our state and federal agencies can legally and in good conscious, “if necessary,” on behalf of flood control, release more nutrient, sediment filled waters into our SLR/IRL through Lake Okeechobee when they know that those waters often contain Microcystis Aeruginoas, a cyanobacteria that can produce health threatening toxins through its blue-green algae blooms.(http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Contaminants/BlueGreenAlgae.aspx)

Various SLR 2013 photos of cynanobacteria. Bob Voisenet, Mary Radabaugh, Jenny Flaugh, Douglas Ashley.)
Various 2013 SLR photos of  microcystis aeruginoas, cynanobacteria. (Bob Voisenet, Mary Radabaugh, Jenny Flaugh, Douglas Ashley, Gary Hendry.)

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In 2013, the Martin County Health Department, through spokesperson, Bob Washam, urged residents to avoid contact with the algae in the entire estuary from the St Lucie Canal to the St Lucie Inlet. Luckily with our local, “yuk” releases, we have not had that situation occur yet in 2014.

I have had two personal experiences witnessing these blue-green blooms. The first was during a boat ride into Lake Okeechobee, September 5, 2009, and the second was last year (2013)  with the Everglades Foundation team, at the St Lucie Locks and Dam when the ACOE was releasing. As we walked over the gates,  I clearly saw bright blue-green algae on the side of the dam allowing in Lake O water. Believe it or not, the SRWMD was testing the water right there… Mark Perry from Florida Oceanographic was with me and I ask him:

“Mark, is that “toxic” blue-green algae?”

Mark replied:

“Yes, blue-green algae can be toxic is most prevalent in fresh water systems. It is often in the lake.”

“And they are releasing it into our river?!”

I stood there in a daze….amazed.

Then I recalled the boat trip I had taken with my husband and dogs in 2009,  and how we had seen the blue-green algae clearly along the edges of the locks while going into the lake and I had videotaped it.  I am including some photos I took of that video below.

photo 5 photo 2 photo 3 photo 4

boat ride

When Senator Rubio visited  Stuart on behalf of the SLR/IRL, I told this story….I have told it many times at many official meetings to no avail. I think it a significant issue. Anyway…

So far this year, with the releases from our local canals, toxic algae, or Cyanobacteria, has not been reported in the SLR/IRL. It could be in the future, but it is less likely than when the ACOE is releasing from the lake. Why? Because often when they release from the lake it is TREMENDOUS amounts of freshwater, even more than comes from our local canals. Plus the blue-green algae is already in the lake as its fresh.

According to Bob Washam, blue-green algae was first reported around 1995 and it was blue! They thought it was a paint spill. The outbreaks have been more common since this time the worst being in 1998. Whether blue or green in color, it is bright. Very bright. You can see it.

How could our government, in essence, “poison its own people,” and how can we allow this, especially when we can see it?

We must push our government for change. Health, safety and welfare is something we rightfully deserve. Send the water south. 

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Army Corp of Engineers (http://www.usace.army.mil)
South Florid aWater Management District (http://www.bing.com/search?q=south+florida+water+management+district&form=APMCS1)