TC PALM: Lake Okeechobee discharges, not septic systems, cause algae blooms

TC PALM: July 8, 2016. Written by Tyler Treadway

It's the lake, stupid.

They say pictures don't lie, and that's never been more true in settling the argument over what caused the St. Lucie River algae crisis: Lake Okeechobee discharges or septic systems.

NASA satellite photography has tracked a massive algae bloom in the lake since early May. Videos and photographs by news organizations, including Treasure Coast Newspapers/TCPalm.com, also clearly show bright green algae flowing out of the lake, along the C-44 (St. Lucie) Canal and into the river.

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PALM BEACH POST: Lake O algae bloom balloons to about 200 square miles

PALM BEACH POST: July 8, 2016. Written by Kimberly Miller and Jennifer Sorentrue

The massive algae bloom floating in Lake Okeechobee has grown substantially over the past month, and some environmentalists now estimate the blue-green slime covers more than a quarter of the lake’s surface.

Stephen Davis, a wetland ecologist for the Everglades Foundation, on Friday said the lake’s algae bloom measures roughly 200 square miles — a 500 percent increase from May, when the bloom was measured at 33 square miles.

The Florida Oceanographic Society, based in Stuart, used a July 2 NASA satellite image to estimate that the algae bloom has spread to about 239 square miles.

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FORBES: How corruption caused a toxic water crisis in Florida

FORBES: How corruption caused a toxic water crisis in Florida. Created by Ed Hall

The massive, toxic algae bloom currently swirling around the peninsula of Florida has its origins in an ongoing cycle of political manipulations, kickbacks, loosening of environmental and water regulations, an aging water-transfer infrastructure in and around Lake Okeechobee, and a Governor in the pocket of Big Sugar. It all adds up to one vicious chain, and guess who gets to foot the bill.

How corruption caused a toxic water crisis in Florida

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FLORIDA TIMES-UNION: Florida's dirty laundry is in view for all

FLORIDA TIMES-UNION: July 5, 2016. Written by Ron Littlepage

The world now knows how shabbily we in Florida have treated the precious gifts of nature we were given. For several days running, news reports and headlines have exposed the state’s dirty secret of how we have fouled our own nest.

USA Today’s description of the St. Lucie River: “Thick toxic blooms that are ruining the river’s ecology, devastating water-related businesses and that could potentially cause health problems for those in contact with the water.”

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KEYS WEEKLY: Seagrass die off due to hyper salinity

KEYS WEEKLY: July 1, 2016. Written by Gabriel Sanchez

It started last summer during the drought and was only exacerbated by the continued blockage of freshwater flowing southward through the Everglades. A large section of seagrass (between 30,000 and 50,0000 acres affected) has died off in the Florida Bay, and things could be getting worse. “The expansion of algae overgrowth needs to be stopped,” says Steve Davis, staff ecologist with the Everglades Foundation.

On a recent tour of Florida Bay, and its affected basins, the Weekly observed firsthand the effects of the recent algae bloom prior to a public meeting on June 21 on the issue. Members of The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Florida Water Management District, the Florida House of Representatives, the Everglades Foundation, local officials, and Florida Bay Forever (a Monroe County based conservation group) were present to learn and discuss solutions.

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Facts


TC PALM: Nelson suggests eminent domain of sugar land

TC PALM: June 30, 2016. Written by Maureen Kenyon

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson's boat tour of the St. Lucie River was canceled due to rain, however, he spoke with the media and other local officials about the blue-green algae that has invaded Treasure Coast waterways.

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State legislative candidates discuss land purchases and guns at forum

NAPLES DAILY NEWS: June 23, 2016. Written by Alexandra Glorioso

Republican state legislative candidates offered different takes Thursday on tax-funded land purchases and guns at a campaign forum.

Rep. Kathleen Passsidomo, a Naples Republican running for a state Senate seat, said she supports state funding to purchase lands south of the Everglades.

"The (state) constitution says we have to spend funds to acquire and maintain environmentally sensitive lands," she said.

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SW Fla. fishermen, shoreside residents echo water quality concerns

NBC2: June 21, 2016. Written by Andrea Hubbell

LEE COUNTY - The water quality is worse than ever, according to some Southwest Florida fishermen. Tour guides are saying in order to catch fish, they must drive up to 25 miles out from shore. It's not a new problem as it's been happening for decades. But the worse it gets, the more it will affect the economy now and in the future.

For Blake Matherly, it's a curse with a hidden blessing.

"This year it's far worse because of the extra rain we have been getting. But all that has done is let more people see that this problem has been going on for years," Matherly said.

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Guest commentary: Everglades protection must prevail against the sugar industry

NAPLES DAILY NEWS: June 16, 2016. Written by Kimberly Mitchell, Executive Director at the Everglades Trust. 

We all pay dearly for Florida's sugar industry. It needs to end.

A recent guest commentary in the Naples Daily News from the Florida Sugar Cane League claimed that Florida sugar production is the epitome of family farmers hard at work.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the most recent agricultural census reveals that there are only about 150 sugar "farms" in Florida, two of which account for some 300,000 acres of production — some family enterprise!

To be clear, the Florida Sugar Cane League is speaking for the mammoth Florida sugar barons — U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals. The guest commentary criticizes those working hard to restore America's Everglades by calling them "so-called defenders of the environment."

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