Our Rivers Need Your Help

BY Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
I have had two personal experiences witnessing blue-green blooms in Treasure Coast Area waters. The first was during a boat ride into Lake Okeechobee, September 5, 2009, and the second was last year (2013) with the Everglades Foundation team, at the St Lucie Locks and Dam when the ACOE was releasing. As we walked over the gates, I clearly saw bright blue-green algae on the side of the dam allowing in Lake O water. Believe it or not, the SRWMD was testing the water right there… Mark Perry from Florida Oceanographic was with me and I asked him:
“Mark, is that “toxic” blue-green algae?”
Mark replied: “Yes, blue-green algae can be toxic and is most prevalent in fresh water systems. It is often in the lake.”
“And they are releasing it into our river?!”
I stood there in a daze….amazed.
Then I recalled the boat trip I had taken with my husband and dogs in 2009, and how we had seen the blue-green algae clearly along the edges of the locks while going into the lake and I had videotaped it. I am including a photo I took of that video below.
When Senator Rubio visited Stuart on behalf of the SLR/IRL (St. Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon), I told this story….I have told it many times at many official meetings to no avail. I think it is a significant issue.

St. Lucie River Green Algae

St. Lucie River Green Algae Bloom

So far this year, with the releases from our local canals, toxic algae, or Cyanobacteria, has not been reported in the SLR/IRL. It could be in the future, but it is less likely than when the ACOE is releasing from the lake. Why? Because often when they release from the lake it is TREMENDOUS amounts of freshwater, even more than comes from our local canals. Plus the blue-green algae is already in the lake as its freshwater.
According to Bob Washam, blue-green algae was first reported around 1995 and it was blue! They thought it was a paint spill. The outbreaks have been more common since this time the worst being in 1998. Whether blue or green in color, it is bright. Very bright. You can see it.
How could our government, in essence, “poison its own people,” and how can we allow this, especially when we can see it?
We must push our government for change. Health, safety and welfare are something we rightfully deserve. Send the water south where it naturally belongs.

About the author, Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, has been a defender of river health in the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon for many years and is a member “Rivers Coalition Defense Fund”. The Defense Fund helps promote the health and ecological balance of the St. Lucie River Estuary and Indian River Lagoon.
Jacqui may be reached at her website blog; www.jacquithurlowlippisch.com

The above information is opinion based except where noted.

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