FLORIDA SPORTSMAN: Microcystin Toxin: Killing Marine Life and Humans

Florida Sportsman: Written by Karl Wickstrom. August 4th, 2017.

Microcystin is a component of what’s lovingly called blue-green algae, or other confusing names like cyanobacteria. Or, my choice: poisonous slime discharged on us from special interests inland.

Supposedly, a “recent” study at Ohio State University showed that people living in a four-county Florida cluster (Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Okeechobee) died from liver disease (often cancer) at nearly twice the national average and much more often than elsewhere in the state.

This so-called shocking news comes out more than a full decade after noted scientists had already identified nutrient runoffs as the key source of eutrophication, which is known to kill all manner of marine life—and apparently innocent people.

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MIAMI NEW TIMES: Florida Boat Companies Lose Millions as Polluted Waters, Fish Shortages Hammer Business

Miami New Times: Written by Isabella Gomes. August 4, 2017.

Stationed beneath a navy-blue pennant, Capt. Chris Peterson strokes the plush lining of his company’s prized 18-foot skiff. As a scattering of fly-fishing enthusiasts gather around the vessel, the master craftsman pivots the boat’s backrest upward, revealing its double feature as a step stool for the poling tower. Peterson spends his day inside an Atlanta convention center showing two shallow-water boats — but the hearty captain's true clientele is back home in Florida.

For 20 years, Peterson’s Titusville-based company, Hell’s Bay Boatworks, served the “weekend warriors” of South Florida’s backcountry fishing scene. Every year, the company has sold 110 to 120 custom-designed boats, each valued around $65,000.

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WEATHER CHANNEL: Toxic Lake: The Untold Story of Lake Okeechobee

Weather Channel: Written by Kait Parker & Spencer Wilking. December 8th, 2016.

CLEWISTON, Fla. – For months during 2016, plumes of toxic algae turned South Florida’s emerald waters the color of coffee and smothered its inlets under a fetid blanket of guacamole-green goop that killed off fish, suffocated oyster beds and triggered a ferocious outcry from coastal residents.

From NBC’s “Today Show” to The Daily Telegraph of London, news outlets chronicled the closing of beaches, the declaration of a state of emergency and the desperate, heart-breaking efforts of people using garden hoses to save manatees, affectionately known as sea cows, caked in toxic slime and struggling to breathe.

But the reports didn’t explain the most tragic part of the story – that this calamity is man-made. It’s the culmination of 135 years of engineering missteps, hubris and a determination to turn Everglades sawgrass into cash crops. Despite talk of spending $10.5 billion over the next two decades to fix the problem, a cloud of political uncertainty leaves it unclear when, how – or even if – the harmful algae blooms will be stopped.

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CBS 12: 'A ticking time bomb': Toxic algae expected to make a comeback

CBS 12: Written by Erin MacPherson. August 3rd, 2017.

Experts say it's only a matter of time until the toxic algae comes. (WPEC)

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (CBS12) — Experts say it's only a matter of time until the toxic algae makes its return.
Although the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon have not been tested positive for toxic algae, Lake Okeechobee has.

“We’re sitting on a ticking time bomb,” said Dr. Zack Jud, the director of Education for the Florida Oceanographic Society.

"Conditions in the lake are going to continue to favor algal growth and if we get enough rain to let the discharges that algae bloom is going to end up in our water shed, in our estuaries, just like it did last year.”

Lake Okeechobee is just under 13 feet, which South Florida Water Management District officials say is amazing for this time of year.

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SUN SENTINEL: For Rick Scott, political protection beats flood protection

Sun Sentinel: Written by Randy Schultz. August 1,2017.

The setting was perfect Monday afternoon for Gov. Rick Scott’s latest political game with South Florida’s most important public agency.

Though the South Florida Water Management District’s nine board members were scheduled to choose a new executive director, not one was present at district headquarters in West Palm Beach. All participated by phone. No matter.

Under Scott, the board doesn’t set policy. Scott sets policy, through directors he chooses. The new one is Ernie Marks. The board took 20 minutes to hire the person who must protect the southern third of Florida from flooding, ensure an adequate water supply and oversee Everglades restoration.

Of course, the discussion didn’t need to take long. The governor had given the board one choice. Serving on the South Florida Water Management District board once was prestigious. These days, board members are just the governor’s political props.

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TC PALM: Where's the urgency as algae bloom grows in Lake Okeechobee?

TC Palm: Written by Gil Smart. July 27, 2017. 

Remember the mean, green summer of '16?

Hike out to Lake Okechobee if you want to see the sequel.

There, the waters are turning emerald. Videos posted on Facebook show green tides gently lapping the shore at Port Mayaca.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection last week confirmed the green stuff is cyanobacteria, commonly known as blue-green algae. Two samples taken over the past 30 days tested positive for Dolichospermum circinale. That's different from the dominant toxin in last year's bloom, microcystin, but can still be nasty; according to the federal Environmental Protection Agency, Dolichospermum circinale is a neurotoxin, affecting the central nervous system.

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PALM BEACH POST: Large algae bloom forms on Lake O; could we see a repeat of 2016?

Palm Beach Post: Written by Kimberly Miller. July 30, 2017.

Florida’s freshwater heart is choking on nutrient-laden inflows from the north, south and east this summer, but Treasure Coast waterways have so far been spared the damaging Lake Okeechobee discharges that seeded 2016’s widespread algae bloom.
In a move that hasn’t been made since 2014, the Army Corps of Engineers is letting Martin County’s St. Lucie Canal run into Lake Okeechobee to increase lake levels lowered by spring drought.

Water from the canal, also called the C-44, comes from the east. It’s a reverse of what happened last summer where water from the lake went through the canal into the St. Lucie estuary.

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TC PALM: Army Corps asks Water Management District to delay reservoir; U.S. Rep. Brian Mast: Why?

TC Palm: Written by Tyler Treadway. July 27, 2017.

The federal government needs another month to decide if and how it will help the state build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee to curb algae bloom-causing discharges.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Monday promised to reply by Aug. 31 to the South Florida Water Management District's invitation to work together on the $1.6 billion project.

"We are currently working through multiple options for the next steps to address your request," Col. Jason A. Kirk, who heads the Corps' Florida operations, wrote to water district Executive Director Peter Antonacci.

Kirk said he wanted to make sure those options "are legally sufficient, policy compliant and implementable."

Corps officials in Florida would "like 30 days to do additional coordination" with higher-ups in the South Atlantic Division office in Atlanta and headquarters in Washington, D.C., spokesman John Campbell said Tuesday.

The state legislation authorizing the reservoir set a deadline for the Corps and the district to start working together by Aug. 1. The Corps, as a federal agency, isn't bound by the state Legislature's deadlines.

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TC PALM: Pick an expert, not a crony, to helm South Florida Water Management District

TC PALM: Written by Editorial Board. July 28, 2017.

It's not what you know, it's who you know.

And if there were an "exhibit A" for this old saw, his name would be Pete Antonacci.

Antonacci is leaving his post as executive director of the South Florida Water Management District to take the helm at Enterprise Florida, the embattled economic development agency championed by Gov. Rick Scott but loathed by House Speaker Rep. Richard Corcoran, who tried to gut it in this year's legislative session.

Now is a key time for Enterprise Florida as it retools after a huge budget cut. As such, one might think this is a job for someone with years of relevant experience.

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MIAMI HERALD: More summer rain means more environmental problems across South Florida

Miami Herald: Written by Jenny Staletolvich. July 24, 2017.

After record rain sent water levels soaring across farmland south of Lake Okeechobee and water conservation areas from Palm Beach to Broward counties last month, South Florida water managers raced to flush the peninsula, pumping billions of gallons out to sea and into Biscayne Bay, and opening floodgates normally closed to protect endangered Cape Sable seaside sparrows.

Within three days, what remained dry in sparrow nesting grounds was under water. Manatee Bay, north of the Overseas Highway, turned nearly fresh — salinity this week remained a third of what it should be. And in the Everglades, Taylor River contained more saltwater than fresh.

“They’re just not putting it in the right places. They’re dumping it,” said Audubon Florida’s Research director Jerry Lorenz. “I recognize the need for emergency action with as much rain as we got. I just think it could have done better than just dumping it.”

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