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 

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

Disaster Loans for Small Businesses

Small business owners impacted by blue-green algae may apply for a loan with the  U.S. Small Business Association (SBA) online. The filing deadline to return applications for economic injury is June 4, 2019.

Applications and program information are available by calling the SBA’s Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 (1-800-877-8339 for the deaf and hard-of-hearing) or by emailing isastercustomerservice@sba.gov. Loan applications can also be downloaded at www.sba.gov. Completed applications should be returned to a center or mailed to: U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, Texas 76155. 

Algae Removal

The county worked with a contractor and two vendors to provide harmful algal bloom removal services. AECOM has removed approximately 34,000 gallons of algae.

Pulse Schedule

The Army Corps of Engineers transitioned to lower flows from Lake Okeechobee to the estuaries, starting Friday, October 5, implementing 7-day pulse releases with an average target flow for the Caloosahatchee Estuary of 2,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) as measured at W.P. Franklin Lock & Dam (S-79) near Fort Myers, and zero cfs for the St. Lucie Estuary as measured at St. Lucie Lock & Dam (S-80) near Stuart.

Average target flows to the Caloosahatchee will be stepped down to 1,500 cfs on October 12, and 1,000 cfs on October 19, while the St. Lucie target remains at zero cfs.

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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