Friday, May 24

‘Emerging algae bloom’ on Lake Okeechobee causes growing concern amid 3rd round of discharges

As office manager at Apex Marine, Mary Radabaugh’s livelihood depends on the water.

“We’re seeing the chocolate milk-looking water,” Radabaugh said.

She explained the last several weeks have been tough for business in Stuart amid water releases from Lake Okeechobee looking to lower lake levels and reduce flood risk.

“We have seen a decrease. We’re much slower than we have been,” she said. “Because it goes all the way out to the ocean and unless you have a calm day and can go boating in the ocean you can’t get away from this.”

With a third cycle of discharges to the St. Lucie River since mid-February, Eve Samples from Friends of the Everglades is keeping a close watch on the potential for months of releases to reach the Army Corps of Engineers goal of lowering the lake.

“We’re really concerned right now because there is an emerging algae bloom on Lake Okeechobee that is likely to get larger as the weather heats up this spring,” Samples said.

The Florida Department of Health in Okeechobee County on Saturday issued an alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins on the northwestern side of Lake Okeechobee. The alert was based on a sample taken last week.

Samples worries blooms will move into the St. Lucie River with ongoing releases.

“This is a really concerning public health threat,” Samples said. “It can lead to neurodegenerative diseases like ALS and Alzheimer’s and also liver damage and its terrible for our marine life.

Those who work in the marine industry, like Radabaugh, fear a repeat of damaging summers like 2016 and 2018.

“No one wants to boat in toxic water,” Radabaugh said. “It has damaged us in the past. We talk about the lost summers. Those were really bad summers that we had toxic algae blooms.”

She wonders when the Treasure Coast will see an end to the discharges.

“We need to stop it. We’ve been doing this for a really long time,” Radabaugh said. “It’s time to change our ways.”

Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *