Harbor Branch study conclusively ties St. Lucie Estuary damage to Lake O releases


Algae blooming in the St. Lucie River makes it difficult to tell water from grass in this photo, taken from the air near Stuart in 2005. (Source: TCPalm)

TCPalm reports that several factors have combined to environmentally damage the St. Lucie Estuary, but discharging water from Lake Okeechobee is “the 800-pound gorilla,” according to the lead author of a study by Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute researchers. The study led by Brian Lapointe, a research professor at the Fort Pierce-based institute of Florida Atlantic University, analyzed water samples from 25 sites in the St. Lucie River in and around Stuart during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons, when there were significant releases from Lake Okeechobee, and during periods of low rainfall and no releases.

The conclusion: The lake releases combined with local stormwater runoff to create a “perfect storm” that has killed off oysters and seagrasses, given fish lesions, caused algal blooms and raised coliform levels in the water to a point that’s unsafe for humans.

For the complete report: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2013/jan/04/harbor-branch-study-conclusively-ties-st-lucie-o/


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