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Martin County Requests Declaration of Major Disaster

mikenavmikenav Posts: 861 Officer
After more than 350 people showed up to a special County Commission meeting to vent about the toxic algae choking the St. Lucie River, Indian River Lagoon and even the beaches (all the beaches inside and out are closed to swimming right now), commissioners voted to ask Gov. Scott for a declaration of major emergency. Laughable that it has to go through him, but that's the procedure.

The blue-green algae has become so pervasive it's made it's way south into the Lake Worth Lagoon. The algae will kill fish (a six-foot tarpon was floating at Jensen Beach yesterday) and cause fumes that can make humans sick just from inhaling it.

The commission also voted to encourage (further encourage?) the purchasing of land south of the lake to, at the very least, help alleviate some of the outflows killing the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.

There was a very persistent message during the meeting: Get rid of every incumbent elected official who has taken Big Sugar money. Ironically, one of those (Gayle Harrell) was the first speaker and I think it's fair to say her comments about "we are currently crafting a letter to the governor" didn't go over very well. I mean, it's not like the rest of us didn't see the algae coming 4 months ago. But let's get going on a letter now!

Anyway, it's not much of a step, but it's a little momentum in the right direction. LOOOONG way to go.

Replies

  • Westwall01Westwall01 Posts: 5,452 Admiral
    Momentum in the right direction. At some point our corrupt politicians will have to act.
  • Ron@.38 Special[email protected] Special Posts: 6,921 Admiral
    For the life of me I cannot understand why this is a big sugar problem. We have lots of Big Sug problems, but this is a problem with Cattle farms, Dairy farms, septic tanks, lawn fertilizers, and sludge disposal on farm lands.

    It all comes from the North. not the South where big sug resides.

    OK, so you want the Southern Flow-way, OK, good idea, but it will just dump the nutrient laden water in the everglades and Florida Bay moving the problem to another area, and presumably push the damage further South.
  • DarcyDarcy Posts: 1,711 Captain
    :thumbsup
    Westwall01 wrote: »
    Momentum in the right direction. At some point our corrupt politicians will have to act.
    "No i'm NOT Darcizzle!":blowkiss


    https://captainsforcleanwater.org
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,905 AG
    For the life of me I cannot understand why this is a big sugar problem. We have lots of Big Sug problems, but this is a problem with Cattle farms, Dairy farms, septic tanks, lawn fertilizers, and sludge disposal on farm lands.

    It all comes from the North. not the South where big sug resides.

    OK, so you want the Southern Flow-way, OK, good idea, but it will just dump the nutrient laden water in the everglades and Florida Bay moving the problem to another area, and presumably push the damage further South.


    You are right, Ron.

    The impetus for the impossible "Southern flow-way" is grounded in the anti-Cuban immigration effort as a response to federal incentives for the wealthy class of refugees now farming it. Of course that is largely exaggerated, since only one interest has that background. But it is popular a prejudice nonetheless often articulated and fundamental to conversion of the EAA, fueling the charges of "corruption".

    Water from the EAA and sugar farms does not flow north to the lake. It already goes south, unless of course when the system is overwhelmed, but even then it doesn't come from the farms but by the canal conveyance system, as you well know.

    Blaming agriculture in the EAA for not accommodating the storm water from the Kissimmee basin to the north, which actually does require the east -west discharges, is just silly and only makes sense when the ulterior motivation of displacing agriculture production of an unpopular crop and it's producers is well exposed as the underlying issue and there is plenty of that argument visible.

    The fallacy of course is that even if that were possible, and the cities of Moore Haven, Clewiston , Canal Point , South Bay and Belle Glade, and the Miccosukee Tribe and SR 80 an I-75 and US 41 and Everglades National Park were magically disappeared, per the Southern Flow-way plan ( which was rejected for those very reasons) those discharges will still be required during severe weather as a health, safety and welfare concern because of the inflows from the north.

    Of course you know all of these things. There are those who don't however and should.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • toomertoomer Posts: 347 Deckhand
    Westwall01 wrote: »
    Momentum in the right direction. At some point our corrupt politicians will have to act.

    An honest politician is one who, when bought, will stay bought. (Simon Cameron)
  • Westwall01Westwall01 Posts: 5,452 Admiral
    then most of them must be honest........I stand corrected
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 12,399 AG
    I saw a sick manatee in Crystal River last week, I blame Big Sugar.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • saltyseniorsaltysenior Posts: 868 Officer
    one thing I don't understand is that if the water is so polluted , as claimed by many for many years, why is there not a (or a few) non-partisan agencies such as universities doing a much more precise water testing program to accurately show the public what is going on..testing often at many sites between Orlando and both coasts would give truthful information on the amount and source of this so often called ''polluted'' water...
    I recall being up in Md. in the '90's , when all the fingers ,including politician's, all pointed to the farmers up the Susquehanna river as the problem with Chesapeake Bay pollution....a lot of accurate testing turned those fingers and quited a lot of mouths to this day..
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,448 Captain
    This topic/trouble has been around for years and years - and most know what it would take to fix - but haven't been willing to pay the cost...

    Here's what I wrote on another site about the problem just today....

    Take a moment (and take a deep breath...) 'cause most aren't going to like what I have to say....

    We don't have any problems we haven't caused ourselves (yeah, that's right -and it's been going on for years and years...). This isn't the first time the big lake has been the source of terrible pollution problems - and it won't be the last... The solution needed is well known and anyone pointing fingers ought to look in the mirror.

    Put simply, we collectively allowed agriculture (encouraged agriculture at the state level) in an area where it shouldn't be... and this is the result. We've badly hurt the Everglades, set up a situation where discharges (absolutely needed as a safety valve to keep the big lake from killing a bunch of people -again....) are also badly hurting the marine environments on both coasts (discharges down the St. Lucie to the east and down the Caloosahatchee to the west have long been known to be a serious problem - I can remember outrage about this going back thirty years....). You don't even need the visual reminder of how bad these discharges have always been - the mere fact of lots of freshwater into a marine environment is bad enough since the freshwater (even if it didn't have lots of nutrients) simply kills every marine organism it encounters as it floods into areas that need to be salty (or saline as scientists would say...).

    Don't kid yourselves that allowing Lake Okeechobee to hold more water is any kind of solution. That big lake can turn deadly in a heartbeat if the water causes the dike (built in the 1930's ) to fail. If it ever fails it will kill a bunch of people -and just like the last time a dike failed there (around 1928) the folks south of it won't hear it coming until a wall of water washes over their lands, houses, and all... That's the potential nightmare that drives the Corps into this no-win situation..... Remember that terrible catastrophe in 1928 resulted in so many bodies that mass funeral pyres were the order of the day - and many, many victims were never even identified before they were burned - it was that bad... Back then the existing dike was a lot smaller than what's there today so we face a much bigger potential threat from what's there now....

    The solution is pretty simple -but a terrible task for our politicians... We'll need to get the majority of voters in this state to agree to spend whatever it takes to end this situation - and there's the difficulty. We need to buy out lots and lots of agricultural lands then create a flow-way to the south so the water can go back to the way it was before we allowed agriculture to interrupt the way the area worked for thousands and thousands of years. It's a real challenge since the water flowing down into the Everglades needs to be just about nutrient free (actually pure limestone water is what created and sustains the Everglades). There are some hints of good news in all the bad... Farmers have shown that with filtration marshes and careful attention they can remove most of the nutrients from the waters that leave their properties. Right now there are small amounts of water that actually do meet the standards to be allowed to flow down into the Park.

    Blaming any of our current politicians might be great fun - but it will have no effect on this problem. What's needed is for everyone that cares about this issue to persuade the vast majority of voters (long indifferent to water problems and their consequences if it meant higher taxes or restrictions on their lifestyles...) that action is needed - no matter what the cost....

    I'll get down off of my soapbox now. Anyone that thinks what I've said is worth repeating is welcome to take these words and spread them around.... Criticisms - bring them on - we all care about the waters and the critters and fish that thrive or die off based on what we (and I mean all of us) decide to do.
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,905 AG
    Bob's wisdom, always on point.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • toomertoomer Posts: 347 Deckhand
    I'd like to echo one of the many excellent points made by Mr Lemay. Just sending the water south as is would cause invasive plant species to completely take over the ecosystem of the glades. Instead of saving the Everglades, you would destroy them, and Florida Bay with them. The water must be clean as he says, further complicating an already enormously expensive proposition. In an economy with less than 2% growth, that money will never be there to fully implement EAA on the output side.

    But there are things we can do on the input side of the system. We can quit fertilizing damned St Augustine lawns. Ag can mitigate waste and waste water. The state and municipalities upstream can be more aggressive in their mitigation/conservation/education efforts.

    Can't make it stop raining though. Coastal folks can take heart that it is only time until drought comes and your estuaries can begin to heal as the water table is sucked dry by the same folks who pollute the water during the wet times.

    I don't want to sound flippant, but think about this: How many of the 20 million current residents have even seen the coast, much less have a vested interest in its condition? How many of them know about the water resources issues that historically plague the state? How many of these even vote, and of those, how many will agree to add millage to their tax burden to fix a problem they don't see themselves as owning?
    How can we raise awareness and educate voters (not everybody, just target voters who are usually just 20-40% of the population) and make the problem theirs too?
  • ANUMBER1ANUMBER1 Posts: 12,399 AG
    Funny thing in my neck of the woods is a lack of fresh water, cedar, oak and pine hammocks are dying, mangroves are growing where I used to catch bass and brim.
    Springs are drying up and our boats in Kings Bay are now growing barnacles (never seen that in my lifetime)
    The whole system is changing here and I'm not sure it's for the better.
    I am glad to only be a bird hunter with bird dogs...being a shooter or dog handler or whatever other niche exists to separate appears to generate far too much about which to worry.
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,905 AG
    toomer wrote: »
    I'd like to echo one of the many excellent points made by Mr Lemay. Just sending the water south as is would cause invasive plant species to completely take over the ecosystem of the glades.

    The water from the lake though the EAA and the STAs does go south , over 700,000 ac. ft. annually over the past three years.
    And it meets and exceeds the state's established water quality standards for phosphorous.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • lemaymiamilemaymiami Posts: 4,448 Captain
    Thanks for the stats Gary -- if they were able to do so -what volume is needed to even partially restore a workable flow to the south?
    Tight Lines
    Bob LeMay
    (954) 435-5666
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,905 AG
    I'd really like to help you there Bob. But because of the development , population and infrastructure in place, to say nothing of the myriad of federal lawsuits over time there will always be an engineered and compartmentalized conveyance and treatment system in place.

    Here's how it works.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • toomertoomer Posts: 347 Deckhand
    The water from the lake though the EAA and the STAs does go south , over 700,000 ac. ft. annually over the past three years.
    And it meets and exceeds the state's established water quality standards for phosphorous.

    Curious what that state standard is. I guess I could look it up but since you probably know...:) Also, curious as to the extent of cattail infestation. They tend to be a prime indicator of phosphorous problems, and I have read that 10ppb is considered too much by some sources.

    My point was that if that foamy water being directed east and west was sent directly south it would be disastrous. Thx for the clarification, tho.
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,905 AG
    10 ppb is the standard.

    40 is generally considered acceptable by water quality experts. 10 was the "Witch's Broomstick" target demanded by the anti-sugar activists who thought that it would be unattainable and therefore the basis of a condemnation suit.

    The water being delivered to the eastern everglades is 9ppb.

    gMvKrIA.png
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • toomertoomer Posts: 347 Deckhand
    What is happening to reach that low standard while all the dreck heads east and west?
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,905 AG
    toomer wrote: »
    What is happening to reach that low standard while all the dreck heads east and west?
    The water treatment provided by the compartmentalized and bio-engineered systems to the south.

    That's why they need to be there and why the "flow-way" eliminating them will not function to the same level of effectiveness.

    The "dreck" leaving the lake is only a portion of the total phosphorous and freshwater flow being generated within the local basins.

    I can illustrate that as well, if this stuff interests you.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • toomertoomer Posts: 347 Deckhand
    So the dreck from upstream is just a portion of the total afflicting the estuaries? The adjacent runoff/sewage from the contiguous areas also contributes? Yes, curious about percentages.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,905 AG
    toomer wrote: »
    So the dreck from upstream is just a portion of the total afflicting the estuaries? The adjacent runoff/sewage from the contiguous areas also contributes? Yes, curious about percentages.

    The data show that the majority of flow and nutrient loading originates locally within the tidal and surrounding basins.

    This graphic represents the flow and total phosphorous loading to Martin County east via the C-44.

    p0Wh7aq.png

    As you can see, Lake Okeechobee only generates 21% of the total flow and 13% of the nutrient loading to the east coast. 87% of the total phosphorous loading is generated locally.

    This one shows the flow and total phosphorus westward to the Caloosahatchee.

    vuUHWZZ.png

    You can see here that almost 3/4 ths of the flow and 77% of the total phosphorous nutrient loading is generated locally.

    So what does this mean and how do we interpret these data.

    What that says to me is that because we know Cyanobacteria (which is mostly harmless
    ,other than the smell and appearance) resides in all storm water and natural systems the contributions to its expansion are mostly influenced by local and more intensive conditions.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • toomertoomer Posts: 347 Deckhand
    Fascinating, and so counter to what I and many others assume. Thanks for this. Instead of so much blame being cast upstream we might ought to look more at our own backyards, economies and municipalities. (And pray for it to quit raining so much)
  • Pucker FactorPucker Factor Posts: 875 Officer
    Toomer it is interesting when you get the facts, isn't it?

    Good work Gary and thank you for your time to assist others in learning more about this topic as it is a challenging one to understand if you have not been studying it for years and going to all of the meetings.
  • Tom HiltonTom Hilton Posts: 1,595 Captain
    Good work Gary
  • Tom HiltonTom Hilton Posts: 1,595 Captain
    Here's a satellite shot of the algae bloom in Lake O.
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,905 AG
    Yeah, it seems to be a function of hot fresh water and high nutrient content.

    Here is one of an algae bloom originating in a dead end residential canal on the east coast.

    trrpkn5.jpg

    The interesting thing is that the plume is migrating from the residential canal to the larger water body.

    Note the geometry of the algae in the center of the canal which indicates the direction of the flow. And that the most green concentrations are adjacent to those equally green lawns

    So how could this be if the algae is being transported from the lake by the river to the ocean?

    Well the simple answer is that it isn't. So what could be the explanation for this and what does it tell us?

    This and the majority of photos show the cyanobacteria concentrated in shallow man-made residential "dead-end" canals. Those shallow water micro environments are characterized by low disolved oxygen (DO), anaerobic muck, low / minimal flow and are direct discharge points for warm urban storm water that mobilizes fertilizers (notice again the very green lawns), herbicides (which are designed to selectively remove invasive plants; think seagrasses) pesticides and sewage septic tank effluent. All nutrients, and all generating ideal conditions for the bacteria production and growth. It only makes sense that they hold the most visible concentrations.

    Cyanobacteria occurs naturally, in non-visible abundance during periods of dry weather, but blooms with decreased salinity (El Nino creating the wettest January on record) and the other physical, soils, and chemical introductions I mentioned.

    Where this is not as exciting as leveling political blame at those unpopular; the chemistry, hydrology, hydraulics and of course, the weather seem to be more causative.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • sonofagunnsonofagunn Posts: 66 Greenhorn
    It may be true that Lake O discharges "only" accounted for 23% and 13% of the total phosphorous in the rivers over that 5 year span, but it should be noted that those amounts were released in highly concentrated bursts that correspond in timing with fish kills and algae blooms. Whereas watershed runoff is released at a far more steady pace throughout the year (although higher during the rainy season).

    Plus, the everglades needs more water.

    This doesn't absolve the need to fix the other problems (septic tanks, agriculture/residential runoff, etc.), but sending Lake O water south would be a huge improvement.
  • Gary S. ColecchioGary S. Colecchio Posts: 24,905 AG
    sonofagunn wrote: »
    It may be true that Lake O discharges "only" accounted for 23% and 13% of the total phosphorous in the rivers over that 5 year span, but it should be noted that those amounts were released in highly concentrated bursts that correspond in timing with fish kills and algae blooms. Whereas watershed runoff is released at a far more steady pace throughout the year (although higher during the rainy season).

    Plus, the everglades needs more water.

    This doesn't absolve the need to fix the other problems (septic tanks, agriculture/residential runoff, etc.), but sending Lake O water south would be a huge improvement.

    Again, the District has been sending 700,000 ac. ft. south from Lake Okeechobee annually for the last 2 years, literally an order of magnitude more than in years past.

    It's difficult to attribute causation for fish kills (please post photos) and HABs solely upon the releases. this is more apparent when you examine the location of the local HAB occurrences, specifically those generated in dead end residential canals which begin at the dead end and progress to open water, as illustrated above. Close up photography also appears to reveal a different species occurring there other than the more filamentous variety associated with the Lake.

    Similar HAB occurrences in dead-end canals were observed following the January rains and subsequent lake lowering in February however there was no similar observable HAB presence in the discharged water at the time.

    Its therefore more likely that local conditions are responsible for generating the HABs and that the flows transported the HAB from the lake to tide as we have seen in the photography of the dark fresh water plumes.

    In any case the idea that the appearance of HABs as a kind of contagion solely transported by the discharge flows does not meet observations. The HABs in flows may correspond in timing to those locally but are not necessarily causative.
    "If I can't win, I won't play." - Doris Colecchio.

    "Well Gary, the easiest way to look tall is to stand in a room full of short people." - Curtis Bostick

    "All these forums, with barely any activity, are like a neglected old cemetery that no one visits anymore."- anonymouse
  • saltyseniorsaltysenior Posts: 868 Officer
    sonofagunn wrote: »
    It may be true that Lake O discharges "only" accounted for 23% and 13% of the total phosphorous in the rivers over that 5 year span, but it should be noted that those amounts were released in highly concentrated bursts that correspond in timing with fish kills and algae blooms. Whereas watershed runoff is released at a far more steady pace throughout the year (although higher during the rainy season).

    Plus, the everglades needs more water.

    This doesn't absolve the need to fix the other problems (septic tanks, agriculture/residential runoff, etc.), but sending Lake O water south would be a huge improvement.

    please detail all these ''fish kills'..' the only one lately was at an area way to the north of the St.Lucie, did I miss something ???
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