Human Chain to Protest Lake O Discharges

So so so so proud of all these folks.  Will it be enough to get our voices heard?


This screenshot taken from WPTV's Chopper 5 shows a human chain forming at the Indian River Lagoon rally Sunday in Stuart.Thousands of protesters stretched across Jensen and Stuart beaches Sunday as part of a rally against discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Estuary.

And they say they won’t stop protesting until they win the fight.

According to the Martin County Sheriff’s Office, between 2,000 to 2,500 people showed up to create the human chain across the Martin County shoreline, but organizers Evan Miller and Clint Starling estimates more than 5,000 took part.

“We connected the chain all the way to Jensen,” Miller said at Stuart Beach.

It was the second protest put on by Miller and Starling to challenge millions of gallons of water being discharged daily from the lake and local runoff into the Indian River Lagoon. A South Florida Water Management District official said last week there’s a good chance the lake releases will continue at some level through the winter and possibly into the spring.

Protesters arrived at the beaches wearing costumes and wielding signs expressing their displeasure with the state of the waterway.

More than 5,000 gathered at the first protest Aug. 3 at Phipps Park in Stuart.

“This is a remarkable event showing broad-based community support to demand cleaning up our waterways,” said Martin County Commissioner John Haddox at the Sunday rally.

Miller said another rally was in the works, but an exact date and time had not been set yet.

“I’m glad that people are coming out to show their support to save the lagoon,” said Mike Schneider of Hobe Sound. “It needs to be done. Change needs to happen now.”

Lake Okeechobee discharges hurting property value

MARTIN COUNTY — Are discharges from Lake Okeechobee affecting your property values?

That’s what Martin County Property Appraiser Laurel Kelly said she wants to find out.

Kelly said her office is starting to collect data on the sale prices of homes near the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon to see what, if any, impact the discharges have on property values.

“We are aware of the situation, and we are looking into it,” Kelly said.

Since June 22, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been releasing nearly 1.2 billion gallons a day, enough to fill 1, 762 Olympic size swimming pools, from Lake Okeechobee in the St. Lucie Estuary.

The corps says the discharges are necessary to prevent a failure of the 110-mile Herbert Hoover Dike and flooding on the south side of the lake. Corps regulations call for keeping the lake between 12.5 and 15.5 feet.

As of Aug. 2, there had been 88 days of continuous Lake O discharges.

Prolonged freshwater discharges from Lake O can seriously damage marine wildlife and sea grass in the estuary, which depend on a mixture of freshwater and seawater. A lack of salinity also allows coliform bacteria, which can’t survive in salty water, to thrive.

Tests on river water by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission lab detected concentrations of microcystis aeruginosa, a type of cyanobacteria that can produce toxins in the blue-green algae blooms that began covering the estuary this week.

Because of the test results, the Florida Department of Health in Martin County is urging residents to avoid contact with algae in the entire estuary, from the St. Lucie Canal to the St. Lucie Inlet.

As a result of those tests, a triathlon scheduled for Saturday has been moved from the lagoon off the Stuart Causeway to the ocean off the southern end of Jensen Public Beach because of possible toxic algae in the lagoon.

Kelly said sale data the office collects on waterfront properties this year is too late to be used in formulas that determine taxes for 2013. Also, she said state law requires the formula to use property conditions as of Jan. 1 in the same year.

So far, the office has not receive any requests from waterfront property owners to adjust the taxes on their homes.

Kelly said she want to talk with buyers, sellers, real estate brokers or agents who had a sale under contract that was affected by the discharges.

“I’m interested in did the terms of the contract change or did negotiations take longer,” she said.

Sign & Share: Petition to Stop Draining Lake Okeechobee into the river

Here is the petition, please please sign and share!

Governor Rick Scott: Stop the Lake Okeechobee discharges into the St Lucie River and Estuaries

    We are sure that you are aware of the impending disaster of the St Lucie River Esturary and the Indian River Lagoon that we local residents (and tourists who vacation here annually) are now facing because of the illegal pollution that is killing the wildlife and creating a health hazard for humans. We ask you to please help us clean up this problem before it is too late.

The St. Lucie River Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon are in critical condition due to large discharges of polluted freshwater from Lake Okeechobee and the agricultural canals. Discharges now exceed 4.5 billion gallons per day! The water has high levels of phosphorus, nitrogen and pesticides while depositing over 500 cubic yards of sediment into the estuaries daily during the discharges. This is also a direct loss of billions of gallons of freshwater to the ocean that would normally recharge south Floridas drinking water aquifers.

Direct impacts of the discharges include fish with lesions, dying oyster populations and loss of seagrass habitat. Declines in tourism, boating, fishing, and all water-related activities are causing a major economic loss in our community. Here, the environment IS the economy. Protected areas are also being impacted, including two State Aquatic Preserves, the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary, NOAA Essential Fish Habitat, EPA Critical Habitat for Seagrass, the St. Lucie Inlet State Preserve Reefs, and St. Lucie Near shore Reefs nominated for National Marine Sanctuary. These estuaries and coastal ecosystems are habitat for over 4,300 species of plants and animals, including 33 endangered and threatened species, the most bio-diverse ecosystem in North America.

Stop the Discharges and Pollution Now Before it is Too Late!

We, the undersigned, demand that the US Army Corps of Engineers and the South Florida Water Management District stop the discharges of pollution that are killing our estuaries; The St. Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon, and coastal reefs. To our elected officials: We support the buyback of the 700,000 acre “Everglades Agricultural Area” and restoring the land to its original use as the “River of Grass. We demand that our government enforce the Federal “Clean Water Act”, and other similar laws, prohibiting the discharge of any polluted water into the canals and waterways that flow into the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. This is not just a tourism related issue, but a serious health hazard that deserves the utmost urgency.

Rick Scott, Govenor
Stop the Lake Okeechobee discharges into the St Lucie River and Estuaries

[Your name]