Toxic Discharges

The Effects of the Blue-Green Algae Bloom
and What You Can Do About It

About


Mission

When faced with the unthinkable circumstances of our pets being poisoned by the river that surrounds our town, the dog owners came together, met with our Congressman, water activists, and Erin Brockovich to devise an attack plan.

This plan involves all of you affected by the toxic discharges.

The Issues

The toxic discharges of blue green algae from Lake Okeechobee into the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee River is literally killing the estuaries, sea life, our pets, and endangering health and human safety. Watch Video

Learn more at the K-nep Environment YouTube channel: Learn More

Want to know why Lake Okeechobee isn't hypertoxic when it's 90% covered by cyanobacteria, but the St. Lucie is deadly? This study confirms what a lot of people theorized: microcystin dumps its toxins when it hits the stress of saltwater. So the same bloom that tests slightly toxic at Canal Point becomes lethal after it passes. Learn More

The toxic discharges can be reduced prior to the "wet season" when the algae grows by managing the lake at lower levels. Each foot of water equals 150 billion gallons of toxic water.

By lowering the lake 1-2 feet prior to the "wet season", toxic discharges can be reduced by 150 - 300 billion gallons.

The Stop Harmful Discharges Act (H.R. 6700) is an IMMEDIATE Solution at ZERO Cost. The Act proposes to make public health and safety the primary consideration for the management of the Central and Southern Florida Project. Learn More

The CERP and CEPP projects, Kissimmee River restoration, Tamiami Trail restoration, Southern Reservoir construction, and stopping the polluters to the north and surrounding Lake Okeechobee will take years to institute. WE NEED SOLUTIONS NOW.

South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) is pushing back on the "lower the lake" solution because they need to have enough water for Agriculture and Big Sugar.

SFWMD Total Active Permitted Allocations for Irrigation Use in the LEC and LOSA Areas
Agriculture 859,821.85 MGY
Golf 25,543.90 MGY
Landscape 64,853.42 MGY
Nursery 14,574.22 MGY
Grand Total 964,793.39 MGY
Source: Regulation Division Database
MGY = Million Gallons Per Year

 

This graph comes straight from SFWMD. Agriculture receives 5.5 feet of water a year. This is why the East and West Coasts are suffering. The Lake is kept "high" so Agriculture gets their water, while we suffer. SFWMD is picking Winners and Losers. Agriculture (Big Sugar), the polluters to the north and all around the lake are big winners. The losers are the East and West Coast Estuaries, their people, and the animals there.

SFWMD will say they can't let the lake get to low for the health of the lake and that they have no authority to lower the lake. Only extreme low lake levels are detrimental to ecology; the proposed lower levels would actually be beneficial to aquatic plants, fish, birds, water quality, and the economy that the lake supports. SFWMD has the authority granted to them to lower the lake without any changes in the law. Ecologically the lake will benefit from temporary lower levels. At sustained lower levels over long periods it can be damaging but the Act calls for lower levels prior to the "wet season". Also, SFWMD has testified that everyone will continue to get their water no matter how low the lake goes.

Additionally, SFWMD will state the problem is the polluters. That still should not stop them from lowering the lake and sending more water south. More pressure on the polluters is important but once again we can't wait years for new regulation and or enforcement.

Yet SFWMD has the power to regulate phosphorous into the lake through "works of the district basins, 40E-61 permits, effective 11/89". This directs the district to provide water quality monitoring programs in relation to phosphorous nutrients. Ask them why they are not using these to identify the polluters and then fine them and not permit them water. See presentation by Gary Goforth, P.E., Ph.D., a water resorces engineer who consulted to SFWMD. Learn more

Polluters to the north of the lake, urban areas, agriculture and mining share a great deal of responsibility in the nutrient loads in the lake. The Department of Environmental Protection has instituted BMAP (basin management action plans) and BMP (best management practices) both help pollution reduction and water management. Florida Senators and House Representatives need to be contacted to fund these plans. Learn more

The Army Corps also has a role in this mess. They are obligated to follow LORS (Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule). But the main obligation of the Army Corps mission is to protect the Herbert Hoover Dike. Managing the lake at lower levels helps the Army Corps in their main mission. The Army corps needs to be pushed to change the LORS. Currently the target range of the lake is 12.5-15.5 feet. The Army Corps discharges water in the summer when the lake is in the 14' range. At that range we are guaranteed toxic discharges in the summer. If the LORS was dropped 1-2' the east and west coast would stand a chance for less discharges. Also, there are four canals at the southern end of the lake. The army Corps needs to share more of these toxic discharges south. The canals go to West Palm, Hillsboro, Broward, and Dade County. SFWMD has more representatives in these areas. They are pushing back for less water south.

The problem with both the SFWMD and the Army Corps is that they are putting special interests ahead of the health and human safety of the communities east and west of the lake. They need to hear from the people who are being harmed. Additionally, funding for various projects and plans needs to happen. State and US Senators and House Representatives need to be contacted.

What can you do about it? Click here to find out.

What You Can Do


Immediate Action Needed!

The Army Corps is reviewing its rules for managing Lake O and must consider how the management of the lake impacts our "human environment". It is our job to tell them to consider certain things, such as human, environmental, and economic health. Please attend one of these meetings and /or write to them your concerns.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville District announces an additional public scoping meeting in the Florida Keys regarding the development of the new Lake Okeechobee System Operating Manual (LOSOM). This will be the final meeting in a series of National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) public scoping meetings held throughout south Florida. After the scoping comments are analyzed, series of workshops will be announced in the future. The public scoping comment period will be extended through Monday, April 22, 2019.

South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Members

Tell them to quit picking winners and losers, let the lake be managed lower, and send more water south.

Tell them to use their 40E-61 permits to identify the phosphorous polluters and stop them. Ask them to create permits to identify nitrogen polluters.

Contact South Florida Water District Governing Board Members

Attend Governing Board and WRAC Meetings

Army Corps of Engineers, Jacksonville, Fl

Ask them to change the LORS to allow more flexibility in the discharges. Flexibility that sends more water south, that lowers the lake prior to the wet season, that doesn't send a constant large flow to the east and west coasts. Flexibility that gives water in the dry season to areas asking for it (Sanibel asked for water in winter 2018 and they didn't release).

 

Colonel Andrew Kelly

District Commander
Email Colonel Andrew Kelly
904.232.2243

Major Joseph Sahl

Deputy District Commander
Email Major Joseph Sahl

Jacksonville District Corporate Communications Office

904-232-2568
Email JDCCO

Contact Governor Ron DeSantis

Contact / Send a letter to the Governor regarding firing all of the SFWMD members.

Send a Letter to Ron DeSantis

Contact Ron DeSantis

Contact the Florida Dept. of Agriculture Commissioner

Ask her to make the BMAP (Basin Management Action Plans) and BMP (Best Management Practices) programs mandatory not voluntary. And to enforce these and punish those who violate. Agriculture is responsible for the majority of the nutrient loads (phosphate and nitrogen) into Lake O and the various water basins.

Email Nikki Fried

Florida Senators and House Representatives

Ask them to make the BMAP and BMP programs mandatory not voluntary. These programs are in place to conserve water and reduce pollutants.

 

US Senators and House Representatives from Florida

Ask them to fund the CERP (Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program) and CEPP (Central Everglades Planning Project) projects, and the EAA storage reservoir project. Also, ask them to support legislation making human health a priority in federal water management decisions, which would require the Army Corps to consider the impact of toxic blooms in coastal communities before discharging water.

 

Reduce Your FootPrint

Reduce your personal use of herbicides, insecticides, and pesticides. Learn more

Use natural insecticides and herbicides. Learn more

Contact your City and County Commissioners and ask them to stop their use of harmful pesticides and herbicides. Learn more

 

Other Organizations

bullsugar.org
Dedicated to stopping the damaging discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries and restoring the flow of clean freshwater to Florida Bay.

Brain Chemistry Labs
Seeking to discover new treatments for brain diseases by studying proven patterns of wellness and disease from indigenous people.

FAU Harbor Branch
FAU Harbor Branch tests people for levels of toxin released from blue-green algae. Watch Video

 

Canaries in the Coal Mine


 

Savvy

Starting on August 26, 2018 and for the next 2 weeks, a total of six known cases of cyanobacteria toxicity were documented. Microcystin is the toxin released from cyanobacteria that is a known liver toxin. A seventh dog became known after we went to the media. The timing of the seventh dog illness was similar to the others. We are unsure if there have been more.The dogs all lived on the St Lucie River. Each dog was known to have escaped down to the river for different lengths of time. Two dogs were known to have ingested dead fish on the riverbank.

All dogs were presented to their veterinarians for acute and severe vomiting quickly followed by severe lethargy. Upon presentation, all dogs' laboratory work was identical, but to different degrees. Severe thrombocytopenia (decrease in platelets), absence of all clotting factors, and severe elevations in the ALT (alanine aminotransferase) liver enzyme. Quick actions by the local emergency veterinarians were able to save five of the 6 dogs. Treatment included multiple plasma transfusions to replenish platelets and clotting factors, shock doses of IV fluids, IV antibiotics, IV liver support medications and much more.

Samples of vomit, blood and urine in the affected dogs all showed toxic levels of microcystin. Finn, the dog that did not survive, had a complete autopsy. The autopsy report showed toxic levels of microcystin in his liver as well. The dog who came to us after the fact did not survive but there was no autopsy performed.

Sammy

Results are in regarding BMAA in Finn's brain tissue, small amounts were found in his brain. BMAA is a neurotoxin present after long term exposure to cyanobacteria. As Finn lived his entire short life along the St Lucie River, it is concerning to see that BMAA was present. Although it did not cause his death, it bodes poorly for those on the St Lucie and Caloosahatchee River communities. Some scientists believe BMAA may cause ALS and Alzheimer's disease.

Ironically, the first dog, Pandora was the one that opened the "box" and exposed us to the extreme hazards and sickness of the river. On August 26, 2018, Pandora, a 5 pound, 2-year-old miniature Pomeranian, was lured to the water by a dead fish that likely died from and/or was covered with microcystin. Her treatment included 1 plasma transfusion, 4.5 days in the hospital, countless needle pricks and still ongoing medication.

Stanley, a 5-year-old, Chihuahua mix, had to spend 4 days in the vet hospital, and then continual ongoing treatment.

September 1st, 2018, Costa, a 4-year-old, 75-pound golden retriever, was lured down to the riverbank and ingested the microcystin at the shoreline. Her treatment included 3 plasma transfusions, 4 days in the vet ICU hospital, countless needle pricks and continued medications.

September 4th, 2018, Finn, a 9-year-old year old, 50-pound standard poodle, went to the shoreline. He spent 2 days in the vet ICU, enduring 3 plasma transfusions and countless needle pricks. Unfortunately, Finn passed away as a direct result from what is contained in our river.

September 8th, 2018, Sammy and Savvy, a pair of golden retrievers, were playing by the shoreline. Sammy received 6 plasma transfusions and remained 10 days in the vet ICU with continued medications. Savvy spent 5 days in the vet ICU and continued medications.

These dogs are the true "canaries in the coal mine". We must heed this warning and fight these toxic discharges as they will lead to human health and safety issues.