Tag Archives: Sucking in the Algae Bloom

Sucking-in the Algae Bloom, Lake Okeechobee’s S-308, SLR/IRL

Lake Okeechobee's S-308 at Port Mayaca, Ed Lippisch, May 13, 2016.
Lake Okeechobee’s S-308 at Port Mayaca, Ed Lippisch, May 13, 2016.

The first time I ever laid eyes on Lake Okeechobee, I was eleven years old. I remember thinking that I must be looking at the ocean because I could not see across to the other side. Just enormous!

In spite of its magnificent size, over the past century, Lake Okeechobee has been made smaller–around thirty percent smaller– as its shallow waters have been modified for human use–pushed back, tilled, planted, diked, and controlled. Today, it is managed by the South Florida Water Management District and the Army Corp of Engineers. Sprawling sugar fields, the Everglades Agricultural Area, (EAA), canals, highways, telephone poles, train tracks, processing facilities, a FPL power plant, and small cites surround it.

S-308, (the “S” standing for “structure), opens easterly into the St Lucie Canal, also known as  C-44, (Canal 44).  About twenty miles east is another structure, S-80, at the St Lucie Locks and Dam. It is S-80 that is usually photographed with its “seven gates of hell,” the waters roaring towards the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, and the City of Stuart, but it is actually S-308 that allows the waters of Lake Okeechobee “in” from the lake in the first place.

Such a fragile looking structure to be the welcome matt of so much destruction…a sliver unto an ocean. So strange…

Today I will share some aerial photos that my husband took on Friday, May 13th, 2016 at about 700 feet above the lake. I asked Ed if from that height he could see the algae bloom so much in the news last week even though over time blooms migrate, “bloom” and then sink into the water column, becoming less visible but still lurking.

“Yes.” He replied.

” It’s harder to see from that altitude, and it depends on the light, but it’s still visible. It’s green in the brown water. The lighting shows were it is. You can see a difference in texture about 100 yards west of S-308. It is not right up against the structure, but further out. Boats are driving through it leaving a trail. It’s appears that is slowly being sucked in to the opening of the S-308 structure , like when you pull the drain out of the sink….”

S-308
S-308 at Port Mayaca, Indiantown, Martin County. Ed Lippisch, 5-13-16
Dike around Lake Okeechobee near S-308
Dike and rim canal around Lake Okeechobee near S-308. Ed Lippisch, 5-13-16
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opening S-308
opening S-308 EL
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…Looking towards S-308 from Lake O, boat going through bloom. Ed Lippisch, 5-13-15
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Remnants of bloom seen bunched in waves. Ed Lippisch 5-13-16.
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C-44 or St Lucie Canal
C-44 or St Lucie Canal that is connected by S-308 to Lake Okeechobee.EL
Algae bloom in C-44 near Indiantown just east of Port Maraca and S-308.
Closer view of algae bloom in C-44 near Indiantown “downstream” of Port Maraca and S-308 headed to Stuart. (JTL 5-10-16)
SFWMD basin map for SLR showing S-308 and S-80 along with other structures.
SFWMD SLR basin and canal map showing S-308 and S-80 along with other structures.
This aerial was taken last week by Will Glover and shows a larger bloom not far from Pahokee in Lake Okeechobee. Pahokee is south of S-308 on the southern rim.
Algae Bloom in Lake Okeechobee: This aerial was taken last week by Will Glover as he was flying over Lake Okeechobee in a commercial airplane. It was shared on Facebook.

TC Palm’s Tyler Treadway reported on 5-13-16: “The lake bloom was spread over 33 square miles near Pahokee, the South Florida Water Management District said Thursday. The Florida Department of Health reported Friday the bloom contains the toxin microcystin, but at a level less than half what the World Health Organization says can cause “adverse health impacts” from recreational exposure.”

Map of cities around Lake O and trail you can take to see this area.

Pahokee is south and west of Port Maraca and S-308. (Florida Trails)