Water Quality and the St. Lucie River

  • Port Mayaca June 13, 2018
  • Sunset Drive Marina, Algae observed July 31, 2018
  • De la Bahia, Algae observed July 31, 2018
  • St. Lucie Inlet at low tide June 13, 2018
  • St. Lucie Locks Boat Ramp July 3, 2018

Animal Safety Alert

The Centers for Disease Control has issued an animal safety alert related to algae blooms. The CDC advises pet adn livestock owners, if tehre is a potential cyanobacteria bloom, "When in dount, it's best to keep out."

Learn about cyanobacteria blooms and animal safety

Water Quality Update

Thursday, September 13: The Lake Okeechobee water level is 14.71 feet, with the previous day at 14.71 feet and the previous week at1 4.66 feet. The total structure creek inflows are 4,588 cubic feet per second (cfs) and total structure outflows at 3,155 cfs. Flows at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam will vary daily per the schedule below, but will average 1,170 cfs over the seven day period, with no releases scheduled for Saturdays and Sundays. Additional runoff from rain could result in flows that exceed the target.

Disaster Loans for Small Businesses

The U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) will open a Disaster Loan Outreach Center in Martin County to assist small businesses impacted by blue-green algae. Representatives will be available at the Disaster to answer questions about the disaster loan program and help individuals complete applications. 

Read the full news release from the U.S. Small Business Association for more information

Location:
Martin County Fire Rescue Headquarters
800 SE Monterey Road
Stuart, Florida 34994

Hours:
Monday through Friday: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. 
Saturday: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

Algae Removal

The county is working with a contractor and two vendors to provide harmful algal bloom removal services. To make a request to have blue-green algae removed from a waterway, please complete a request for service. As of Wednesday, September 11, AECOM has removed approximately 25,580 gallons of algae.

Pulse Schedule

The Army Corps of Engineers will continue to utilize the pulse schedule already in effect until further notice:

Day of the Week Day of Release

(S-79) to the west - Caloosahatchee

(S-80) to the east - St. Lucie River

Friday 1 3000 1170
Saturday 2 3000 0
Sunday 3 3000 0
Monday 4 3000 1270
Tuesday 5 3000 2000
Wednesday 6 3000 2100
Thursday 3000 1650

Timeline

  • August 24: AECOM begins blue-green algae removal. 
  • August 23: Martin County contracts with vendor, AECOM, to utilize grant funds for pilot program to remove blue-green algae
  • August 21: Blue Green Algae was observed in the water off Bathtub Beach. The Florida Department of Health (DOH) and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) were notified by Martin County. 
  • August 7: The Martin County Board of County Commissioners declared a local state of emergency during an emergency meeting to discuss water conditions. (Read the Declaration of Local State of Emergency)
  • July 9: Gov. Rick Scott issued an emergency order in Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties on July 9 to help combat algal blooms caused by Lake Okeechobee water discharges from the Army Corps of Engineers. (Read Executive Order No. 18-191)
  • July 6: Martin County installs first Blue Green Algae warning signs
  • June 11: First Blue Green Algae confirmation at Leighton Park.
  • June 1: The US Army Corps of Engineers began discharges to the St. Lucie River and Estuary and Caloosahatchee River and Estuary.

The Indian River Lagoon

The St. Lucie River is part of the larger Indian River Lagoon system, the most diverse estuarine environment in North America, with more than 4,000 plant and animal species. Extensive historical modifications to the St. Lucie River and its watershed have altered the hydrology of the region. As a result, heavy rainfall can bring large influxes of freshwater into the St. Lucie Estuary from stormwater runoff within the basin, Lake Okeechobee releases, or both.

The additional freshwater is often darker in color than Atlantic water, and a distinct line forms where the freshwater meets the salt water. The darkness of the freshwater is caused by tannins in the water. Tannins are natural, organic matter commonly found in freshwater systems. The increased lake water and basin discharges lower salinity levels and reduce water quality in the estuary, causing environmental and economic damage.  

Martin County’s Role

Monitor. Communicate. Advocate. Martin County Ecosystems and Restoration Management staff conducts visual checks on sites throughout our area and continues to participate in weekly calls with the Corps and other partner agencies. Additionally, staff reports algae sightings to DEP for notification and consideration of testing. Through our website and social media pages, staff communicates relevant information about the St. Lucie River and estuary and water releases. The Martin County Board of County Commissioners and staff advocate on behalf of our citizens and waterways through our relationships at the state and federal levels. 

Stay Informed

Beaches: Martin County Ocean Rescue manages the safety of beach goers at four guarded beaches. Advisory signs are posted at all non-guarded beaches. For daily updates on current beach conditions throughout Martin County, please call Martin County's Beach Information Hotline at (772) 320-3112.

Florida Department of Health (DOH): The Florida Department of Health provides education to the public to prevent and reduce illnesses caused by harmful algae blooms. The Martin County Health Department conducts beach and river water sampling to test for enterococci bacteria, which normally inhabit the intestinal tract of humans and animals. If higher than normal levels of bacteria are present, advisory signs will be posted and residents are urged to avoid contact with the water. (View DOH's sampling results)

Algae bloom toxicity levels: The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) and Florida’s water management districts collect samples when algae blooms are observed. (View DEP's sampling results

Citizens are advised, if they have any suspected algae-related illness or health effects due to exposure, to see their physician and report illness to the Florida Poison Control Center at (800) 222-1222.

Report an Algae Bloom

Martin County reminds residents they should avoid any contact with algae blooms and stay out of waters where it is present. Please report algae blooms or sightings to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at (855) 305-3903 or submit a report online.

Report Impacts on Fish and Wildlife

Fish kills or other wildlife impacted by poor water quality should be reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC) at (800) 636-0511 or submit a report online.

Martin County is committed to ensuring accessibility of its website to people with disabilities. To report an accessibility issue, request accessibility assistance regarding our website content, or to request a specific electronic format, please complete our Accessibility Feedback Form. We will make reasonable efforts to accommodate all needs.

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