Tag Archives: nutrients

Signs of a Toxic Algae Bloom at Central Marine? SLR/IRL

2017/2016

“Here is the basin right now. It may not be the blue-green algae but I am willing to bet it has some of the same properties that created the algae bloom.” —Mary Radabaugh, Central Marine

Central Marine…the epicenter for the St Lucie River’s “Algae Crisis of 2016.” More photographed than a movie star, the marina became home-base for reporters, politicians, as well as state and federal agencies.  All witnessed something beyond human imagination. It is something we will never forget…

Mary and Dutch Radabaugh, who manage Central Marine, bravely and eloquently handled the situation, and kept working….

Mary became the spokesperson for Martin County on local, state, national, and international media. Her confident and calm southern manner gave stability when it was difficult to breathe.

Mary Radabaugh

This year, in 2017, Mary has remained low-key. Although the ACOE is not discharging Lake Okeechobee waters in to the St Lucie River, the marina definitely has been showing signs of a possible coming bloom…

The “circus” too fresh in Mary’s memory, she has not spoken, until now.

The photos below are Mary’s; they are dated. As one can see, although there is no blue-green algae visible, there are the signs. The signs we learned to recognize in 2016. The bubbles, the foam, the nutrient swirls of seeming organization…

So, with no dumping where are the nutrient bubbles coming from? These nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen)  are known side effects from years of careless agriculture and development—- that feed the “algae…”

Is it there from last year, or before? Is is rising from the putrid muck of the river where the blooms sunk and died only to rise again?

Most important. Is it now endemic to the system? Will it affect our health?

~Just to look and see if we could follow the bubble/foam for Mary, Ed and I flew on Sunday, July 30th, from the St Lucie Locks to the St Lucie Inlet. It was early morning, and the light was not great, but one could see the intermittent bubble swirls like a gigantic serpent to the Inlet. In the video they are most visible rounding the peninsula of Sewall’s Point.

Sewall’s Point is the peninsula and Sailfish Point is the ball like formation at the south end of Hutchinson Island (R) Atlantic on far R. (Google Maps 2013, another Lake O discharge year…)

Mary just happened to be at the Sandbar and St Lucie Inlet on Sunday, just off Sewall’s Point. She texted a photo and wrote:

“I really have a hard time watching people swim in the water when it is that gross brown color. I truly believe if they were dumping the lake right now we would be way worse than last year. This that we are seeing I believe is remnants of algae settled in our river bottom being churned up in combination with natural runoffs. Keep up the documentation so when they do decide they need to open them we can show it will be a catastrophe to human health.”

Mary’s photos of dark river water flowing out towards the St Lucie Inlet, July 30th, 2017:

Mary’s photos since June 19th of the water changes at Central Marina, St Lucie River, Rio, Fl http://www.centralmarinestuart.com

June 19, Central Marine, Mary Radabaugh–list signs of water changes
Central Marine, June 19, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, June 29, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, June 30, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, June 30, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 10, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 10, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 10, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 17, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 17, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 17, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 25, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 27, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 10, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 10, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh
Central Marine, July 28, 2017, Mary Radabaugh

 

Central Marine, JTL

Ed & Jacqui’s Flight from the St Lucie Locks and Dam to the St Lucie Inlet, July 30, 2017. “Chasing nutrient bubble/foam swirls….precursors to blooms?”

Video 1 https://youtu.be/2BpN5U_3XNM
(https://youtu.be/2BpN5U_3XNM)

Video 2 https://youtu.be/4uwAZvZpT6c
(https://youtu.be/4uwAZvZpT6c)

 

Photos from 2016, Central Marine Algae Crisis

 

2016 Central Marine

Understanding Why Sometimes Some Things Don’t Make Sense, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Waters in St Lucie River on west side of Sewall's Point, (Photo Ed Lippisch)
Lake O water and some area canal water flowing through SLR after ACOE opened  S-308 on 1-16-15. (Waters in St Lucie River east of Roosevelt Bridge) Photo taken  1-25-15 by  Ed Lippisch)

One thing to remember is that the St Lucie River and many parts of the Indian River Lagoon are “impaired,” as determined by the state of Florida at least by 2002 and 2008:

SLR impairment: (http://www.dep.state.fl.us/southeast/ecosum/ecosums/SLE_Impairment_Narrative_ver_3.7.pdf)

IRL impairment: (http://waterwebprod.dep.state.fl.us/basin411/indianriver/assessment/G5AS-IRL_Low-Res-Merge.pdf)

This basically means any number of things, but mostly, that there is too much “nutrient” (phosphorus and nitrogen) in the water. This comes from many sources and all of the sources should be addressed. These nutrients encourage algae blooms, sometimes toxic,  destroying seagrasses, water clarity, and other “life.”

So no matter how “good” today’s water quality reports may be, or how good the water looks, or whether the Martin County Health Department reports “acceptable” levels of bacteria in the water, the waters of our area are “impaired.” This is especially true, “under the water” where one really can’t see unless you dive in with a mask and flippers.

The state saw this “impairment” status coming for decades due mostly to Florida’s  development boom and the gigantic and historic role of agriculture, but…..

Yes, the key word is “but,” it happened any way…

 

More recently, on January 16th of 2015, the Army Corp of Engineers (ACOE) started dumping from Lake Okeechobee into the SLR/IRL again. This is early in the year to start dumping and historically this foreshadows a bad summer—-BUT Lake O. was high and the ACOE and South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) like to have 3 to 4 feet of “freeboard” in the lake so if a hurricane comes in summer and the diked lake fills with  3-4 feet of water, the Herbert Hoover Dike doesn’t break. They don’t like the lake to be over 15.5 feet or so.  It is “best” if the lake is around 12 feet by summer–BUT they will never tell you that——something to do with “water supply…”

Chart  releases 2-15-14 by the SFWMD showing releases from Lake O since January into SLR/IRL.
Chart releases 2-24-14 by the SFWMD showing releases from Lake O since January into SLR/IRL.

The above chart provided by the SFWMD shows all releases since January into the SLR/IRL. Blue is Lake O. The ACOE stopped for one week starting  February 17th so Martin County could complete a bacteria study.

During this time I went up in the plane with my husband; the water looked great in the Crossroads by Sewall’s Point and the St Lucie Inlet as it was an incoming tide and releases had been halted.

One might think: “Oh the water is healthy again!”

Remember, it is not.

SLR/ILR Crossroads 2-22-15. (Photo JTL)
SLR/ILR Crossroads 2-22-15. (Photo JTL)
SLR/IRL convergence waters between Sewall's Point and Sailfish Point 2-22-15. (JTL)
SLR/IRL convergence waters between Sewall’s Point and Sailfish Point 2-22-15. (JTL)

Another factor in all of this is—— if you look at the SLR/IRL reports from Florida Oceanographic (http://www.floridaocean.orgover the entire time of the recent releases,  measuring salinity; visibility; and dissolved oxygen, the reports are quite good. And they are good, but this does not remove the “impaired status” of the river. 

I apologize they are out-of-order below, but I could not achieve better with out great time and effort.

You can click on the images to enlarge the reports. These charts basically show a consistent grading of  “B to A”  water quality in the SLR/IRL since January 8, 2015—- other than the South Fork which of course is where the water from Lake Okeechobee is coming into the St Lucie River through C-44!

Anyway, to repeat again, one must remember that at all times and in all places right now no matter how pretty or how good a chart looks,  our St Lucie River and parts of the Indian River are “impaired.”

We must work to improve the status of our rivers by lessening  area freshwater canal runoff; our own “personal pollution” though fertilizer, septic and other stuff we put on our yards and down the sink; from roads/cars–Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) canals are everywhere and have no “cleaning;”  and most of all, we must work to one day redirect as much water away from Lake Okeechobee as possible.

The purchase of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of the lake is about the only place this can be achieved.

It is all so confusing sometimes, BUT one thing is for sure, the more we learn, the more we can help and inspire others to clean up our rivers!

 

FOS
FOS 1. 1-8-15
2.
2.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 5 photo 3

FOS charts out of order showing water quality.
FOS charts out of order showing water quality.