The Martin County Board of County Commission stands with citizens who are demanding swift action about the impacts associated with the damaging freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie Estuary. Commissioners have proceeded with declaring a local State of Emergency and are urging Florida Governor Rick Scott also declare a State of Emergency, and request a federal State of Emergency be declared by President Barack Obama to address the potential hazardous health, safety and welfare considerations that exists and are likely to continue.
This all comes just hours following a special, emergency meeting convened by County Commissioners to discuss the rapidly deteriorating water conditions and devastating blue-green algae bloom in the St. Lucie River and Estuary, on our coastlines and in the ocean. Approximately 250 people; among them residents, parents, property and business owners and elected officials, filled Commission Chambers and spilled into the lobby where it was standing-room only, offering public comment, which lasted well over three hours.
In the letter to Governor Scott, District 4 Commissioner Sarah Heard wrote, “…help us protect the health and safety of our residents, and save our local economy and ecosystem… We ask you declare a renewed State of Emergency before we see a complete collapse of our ecosystem and economy, and implore the federal government to exercise all options to move water away from the estuaries.”
Our local water conditions have worsened in the last several months. The current discharges from Lake Okeechobee have contributed to toxic algae blooms throughout the water system. Over the weekend, the County was forced to fly double red flags at four popular beaches to direct beachgoers to avoid contact with the water.
Additionally, Martin County has requested the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers immediately suspend Lake Okeechobee discharges through the St. Lucie Lock until the algae bloom conditions approve. The County believes this unprecedented action will provide some relief.
Martin County has formally invited Governor Scott to visit the area and witness the devastation firsthand. The County will also be inviting President Obama. The County pledges its support to finding solutions to these most critical issues.