Tag Archives: scientists

WPTV’s “Changing Seas” Features St Lucie River’s Toxic Algae Saga, SLR/IRL

The day before yesterday, I received an email from my mother. It read:

“I was watching TV and it looked like “our” toxic algae is going to be in the Changing Seas program tomorrow night on PBS at 9.”

She was right! So glad she let me know as I may have missed it. If you did, you can view on link below.

Toxic Algae: Complex Sources and Solutions:


There is incredible footage of the 2016 toxic algae event caused primarily by forced discharges by the ACOE and SFWMD from Lake Okeechobee into the estuaries, St Lucie and Caloosahatchee. South Florida locals such as Mary Radabaugh, Dr Edie Widder, Dr Brian LaPointe, Mark Perry, Phil Norman, Dr Larry Brand, Dr Steve Davis, and Col. Jennifer Reynolds are prominently featured. Edie Widder’s political commentary at the end is priceless.

Toxic Algae: Complex Sources and Solutions.
Aired: 06/21/2017

Water releases from Lake Okeechobee periodically create putrid mats of blue-green algae. Scientists think water pollution is to blame, and if something isn’t done about it there could be irreparable damage to the environment, the local economy and people’s health.

You can Like Changing Seas on Facebook and attend their DIVE IN Summer series on this topic June 28th, 2017. See link:


Please use link, not arrow to access video again: http://video.wpbt2.org/video/3002101897/

Thank you Changing Seas for covering this important topic!



HBOI’s Indian River Lagoon Symposium, Great Minds Collaborating to Save Our Greatest Resource, SLR/IRL

Central Indian River Lagoon (Photo Ed Lippisch, 2013)
Central Indian River Lagoon. The entire lagoon spans 156 miles from Volusia to Palm Beach county. (Photo Ed Lippisch, 2013)
HBOI IRL Symposium, 2015
HBOI IRL Symposium, 2015

Today, at the FAU’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute is the “Indian River Lagoon Symposium.” (http://www.indianriverlagoon.org/Symposium.html) that is part of “Love Your Lagoon,” sponsored by the Harbor Branch Foundation (http://www.indianriverlagoon.org/Love-Your-Lagoon-Dinner-.html).

This symposium consist of one full day of presentations, and poster displays, and is then followed by a day including “public meeting and interaction” going forward. The symposium is a collaboration of many, but is led by beloved, Dr Dennis Hannisak of Harbor Branch, who specializes in seagrasses and has written many valuable publications on the subject. (http://www.fau.edu/hboi/meh/mb.php)

Dr Dennis Hannisak, HBOI.
Dr Dennis Hannisak, HBOI.

I would be remiss if I called the HBOI Symposium, the “4th annual,” as Harbor Branch (http://www.fau.edu/hboi/has a very long history of ocean, and thus estuarine research, here on the Treasure Coast, and has had a number of important symposiums over the past 40 plus years. (http://www.hboifoundation.org/p/28/history)

Nonetheless, the past four have been consistent and coincide with the recent crisis and super-bloom “crash” of the Indian River Lagoon’s northern and central seagrass health, and the 2013 “lost summer,” from devastating polluted releases from Lake Okeechobee on top of canals C-23, C-24 , C-44 and C-25 in the southern lagoon.

Since that time, there has been a public outcry for research, funding, and understanding. These symposiums provide an incredible opportunity for the scientific community, government agencies, youth, budding scientists, and the public to collaborate sharing  knowledge and questions regarding our treasured and ailing Indian River Lagoon. Harbor Branch, founded by Steward Johnson and Edwin Link in 1971 is the perfect place. 


Sunset , Indian River Lagoon. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow Lippisch, 2014.)
Sunset , Indian River Lagoon. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow Lippisch, 2014.)

The overview for the symposium states:

“The Indian River Lagoon (IRL) Symposium is the result of a multi-institutional, multi-agency effort to provide a forum for discussing IRL science and its application to management of the lagoon. The symposium is open to scientists, decision makers, students, education and outreach professionals, and the interested public. The intent is to help facilitate better communication among these groups so that the gaps between research and its application can be narrowed.”

Here is a summary over the past four years:

2102, “Looking Forward:” (http://www.indianriverlagoon.org/IRLS_2012_Program.pdf)

2013, “Health of the Lagoon:”(http://www.indianriverlagoon.org/IRLS_2013_Abstracts_of_Presentations.pdf)

2014, “Lagoon Bio-diverstiy:” (http://www.indianriverlagoon.org/IRLS_2014_Abstracts_of_Presentations_Final_copy.pdf)

2015, “Lessons, Challenges, Opportunities:” (http://www.indianriverlagoon.org/IRLS_2015_Abstracts_of_Presentations_Final.pdf)

SEE THIS LINK TO VIEW programs, and technical abstracts and more: (http://www.indianriverlagoon.org/Symposium.html)

Kudos to the Harbor Branch and to the steering committee and to the public.  Together, may we inspire each other, and our government to “Save our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon!”

•Jeff Beal – Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission
•Patti Gorman – South Florida Water Management District
•Dennis Hanisak – Florida Atlantic University
•Chuck Jacoby – IRL National Estuary Program/St. Johns River Water Management District
•Sea McKeon – Smithsonian Institution
•Mark Perry – Florida Oceanographic Society
•Chris Wilson – University of Florida
•John Windsor – Florida Institute of Technology

To attend the public form, this year entitled: “Engaging the Public: Citizen Science, “please see link: (http://www.indianriverlagoon.org/IRLS_2015_Forum_Program.pdf)(http://www.indianriverlagoon.org/Symposium.html)

How Can We Know How Much Water the ACOE/SFWMD are Sending South or to the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon?

System Status Update is a presentation slide from the ACOE periodic scientist calls. It shows how much water is going east/west and south to the Everglades.
System Status Update is a presentation slide from the ACOE periodic scientist calls. It shows how much water is going east/west and south, in this slide, from the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) to the Everglades.

Today I am going to share an entire 25 piece slide presentation from the Army Corp of Engineers’ Periodic Scientists Call, 7-25-14. It’s a lot of slides, but I think you’ll enjoy trying to interpret them, and I’ll help the best I can. These presentations include a lot of information and show how the ACOE decides how much Lake Okeechobee water is going to go the estuaries, south, to the Everglades, and held, or released, to other places.  This information is UNCLASSIFIED so I can share it.

I first was invited to sit in on these calls in 2012, as I was former mayor and continued commissioner, as today, for the Town of Sewall’s Point. I have talked about this before in my blog but I will restate. I felt like a complete idiot for the first  six months as the ACOE kind of speaks in their own language. A military language.

Eventually, I started to catch on, and even gained the confidence to comment. Although not a scientist, as an elected official I am allowed to give succinct perspective.

These calls take place approximately every two weeks depending on the circumstances. During the terrible 2013 releases from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and the Caloosahatchee, calls took place every week.  “Stakeholders” from the lakes south of Orlando to the  Everglades participate in these calls. Representatives from agriculture, the state agencies, counties and others are present.

Here is the entire presentation from the last call on July 25, 2014.

7-25-14 Periodic Scientists Call, ACOE. UNCLASSIFIED.
7-25-14 Periodic Scientists Call, ACOE. UNCLASSIFIED.

In the slides one sees weather outlooks; inflows/outflows (west, east, south) from Lake Okeechobee and/or the southern flow of water from the EAA or Storm Water Treatment Areas into the Water Conservation Areas and Everglades;  position/historical analysis of water levels in the lake; Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS) guidance for releases; estuary salinities; basin and lake runoff/releases into the estuaries; ongoing emergency storage of water…

In all honesty, it’s a lot for me. I mostly pay attention to the level of Lake Okeechobee and how much they may or may not decide to release into the St Lucie River/IRL. Here the LORS guidance said they could release 1170 cfs cubic feet per second into the SLR/IRL but the ACOE chose not to. Yes, many times the ACOE actually cuts us a break. But when the lake is really high, over 15 feet or so,  there is no break.

I also pay more attention to how much water is going south, as this would help alleviate our situation. It appears to me that usually the water “going south” is from the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA), not from the lake, as in this presentation, the canals just south of the lake are not noted or say “0.” Understandably, the agriculture people like to hold the water in the lake, in case a drought comes, as they need water for their crops.

I will never interpret these calls like a scientist and some the scientist may cringe when I make my non-scientific statements. But that’s OK. I am “trying.”

I think the ACOE and shared South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) slides have gotten better and show more information than when I first started attending. I think they know the people and some politicians of Martin and St Lucie Counties, really all over the state now,  are watching like hawks and demanding more disclosure and transparency in how the ACOE and SFWMD decide to manage Lake Okeechobee and surrounding areas.

I do hope you find this information interesting and not overwhelming. You can find some of it on the ACOE Facebook page (Jacksonville District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) or on their website (http://www.saj.usace.army.mil).

(http://w3.saj.usace.army.mil/h2o/reports.htm) is also a great website but very technical.

Personally, I still find the info for the SLR/IRL hard to find. I wish the ACOE  would devote a special area on their website to us like the SRWMD has because the more we as citizens can easily learn and pay attention, the better chance we have, one day, for a healthier St Lucie River Indian River Lagoon for our children.  

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