Water Quality equal to Boston Harbor’s RAW SEWAGE dumping

Source: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2013/aug/11/move-over-fertilizer-septic-tank-drainage-also/

Investigation: Move over fertilizer; septic tank drainage also contaminating Indian River Lagoon

Study found nutrient levels in Indian River Lagoon as high as Boston Harbor’s when raw sewage was dumped there

By Scott Wyland
Posted August 11, 2013 at 4 a.m.


THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU TC Palm for writing this article and making it front page news on Sunday.  But let’s lead with the big fact –

Harbor Branch has concluded that the contamination levels in Indian River Lagoon are comparable to that of Boston Harbor/Storrow River when the city was dumping RAW SEWAGE into the water. 

Does this not freak anyone else out??  I lived in Boston for eight lovely years, I boated about in the Storrow.  Any time the water splashed on you – you panicked.  You immediately dried yourself off.  I remember advertisements for volunteers for harbor and fens clean up – one looking for volunteers to help clean up the “human debris”  aka bodies.  We’re comparable to that????? Hello freak out button.   I can’t even explain how horrible the water conditions were there.  It’s also alarming that we’re polluting on the level of one of the largest cities in the US (note: they’ve made major efforts for clean up, kudos Boston).  The population in Okechobee is 5600.  The affected towns along the river are also clearly not Boston si



This chart shows the dissolved inorganic nitrogen levels between 2011 and 2012 in the Indian River Lagoon. Dissolved inorganic nitrogen feeds algae blooms in the lagoon.

An angler launches a boat from his Sebastian waterfront home and zooms across the Indian River Lagoon to where his favorite sea grass bed was once teeming with fish he could almost grab with his bare hands.

But the sea grass and fish are gone. Clumps of algae now mottle the sandy bottom in the nearly barren, tea-colored water.

Harlan Franklin glances at several dolphins frolicking in the distance, a majestic sight for many people but a frustrating one for him. He would rather see fish.

Franklin, a former fishing columnist, blames the runoff funneled through canals into the lagoon for killing the sea grass. Septic tanks that leach into canals, groundwater and the lagoon contribute to the pollution, he said, though he’s not sure how much.

“I moved here to fish,” said Franklin, who has lived near the lagoon since 2006. “It’s a major disappointment.”

Researchers at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce have found sewage contaminating the entire 156-mile lagoon. Indian River County’s levels are comparable to Boston Harbor’s when raw sewage was dumped there, a new water analysis shows.

Despite growing evidence that septic tanks play a role in the lagoon’s degradation, most elected leaders are hesitant to tackle this part of the problem, largely because many property owners oppose increased septic regulations, a Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers investigation found.

Some scientists and regulatory agencies point to fertilizers as the main source of the nutrient runoff generating heavy algae in the lagoon. But Harbor Branch professor Brian LaPointe believes sewage carries more of the nutrients spurring algae growth.

“It’s really unclear how much fertilizer is reaching the lagoon,” LaPointe said. “But one septic tank on 4 acres — that’s enough to create a nutrient problem.”

Algal blooms block sunlight that sea grass needs to thrive. As the algae decompose, they deplete oxygen, which can suffocate sea grass and fish, turning clear, biodiverse waters into a murky dead zone.

Local treatment plants discharge some effluent, though most wastewater in the lagoon comes from septic tanks, said LaPointe, who has studied sewage impacts on waterways for 30 years.

There are about 120,000 septic systems on the Treasure Coast, the newspaper investigation found. As many as half were installed before stricter regulations were enacted in 1983, making them more likely to drain sewage into groundwater that ends up in the lagoon, according to data from the counties and Harbor Branch.

No one knows how many systems affect the lagoon, and recordkeeping is sketchier on older septic tanks that could cause the most harm.

One thing is certain: sewage taints the estuary.

LaPointe’s research team took a total of three lagoon-wide samples in 2011 and 2012 and found nitrogen isotopes in the algae, an element directly linked to sewage. Elevated levels of ammonium and nitrate also were detected, LaPointe said, noting anything above 3 parts per million indicates sewage.

This chart shows nitrogen isotopes in microalgae from sewage impacted coastal waters.

He called the findings a smoking gun.

All three counties on the Treasure Coast showed at least 5 parts per million. Indian River County had as much as 9 parts per million, putting it on par with troubled water bodies such as Boston Harbor, according to the research.

“I was taken aback by that,” LaPointe said. “We don’t just have a problem, we have a serious problem.”


North America’s most biodiverse estuary is losing some of its wildlife.

Much of the red algae, known as gracilaria, has a toxic residue LaPointe and other researchers think might have killed 145 manatees, more than 50 dolphins and about 300 pelicans in the lagoon earlier this year in Brevard County. Manatees munched on the stringy algae when it overtook sea grass, their normal dietary staple. Dolphins and pelicans eat fish that ingest the algae.

Sea grass is a vital part of the lagoon’s food web, feeding small fish and mussels larger creatures eat. An estimated 47,000 acres of sea grass has died north of Fort Pierce since 2007, experts say. In areas where it has vanished, most manatees and many fish species have left in search of better pickings, creating dead zones.

Aside from nutrients — such as nitrogen and phosphorous — sewage also contains coliform bacteria, viruses, prescription drugs and anything else flushed down the toilet, LaPointe said.

A conservationist criticizes what he says is public leaders’ reluctance to impose measures to keep septic sewage from harming the lagoon’s ecosystem.

“They have been neglecting, ignoring these septic systems,” said Richard Baker, president of the Pelican Island Audubon Society in Indian River County. “It’s very frustrating that we don’t see more actions taking place. There’s a lot of evidence that groundwater is carrying sewage into the lagoon.”

One option would be to install public sewer lines in areas that don’t have them and order nearby septic tank users to hook in, Baker said. Another would be toughening codes to require faulty systems to be fixed or scrapped.

Property owners are some of the staunchest opponents to government telling them what to do with their septic systems, especially if the changes cost money. Elected leaders tend to align with their constituents.

Replacing a tank and drainfield costs between $5,000 and $7,000 depending on the size of the home, according to vendors. If soil must be replaced, the cost of trucking in sand can bump the price to $10,000 or more.

“You start telling people they got to pay that, they’re going to tell you to stuff it,” said Franklin, who’s hooked to county sewer but is sympathetic to neighbors with septic tanks.

In 2003, Indian River County attempted to connect residents in Wabasso and Pine islands to county sewer and water lines. County officials backed off when residents complained they couldn’t afford the costs, estimated at $5,000 or more.


Indian River County Commissioner Tim Zorc, who wants to restore the lagoon’s health, believes a surgical approach — targeting subpar septic tanks — is less divisive than trying to overhaul an entire area such as the barrier island.

“We want to be practical,” Zorc said. “You have to prioritize your areas. Not all systems have to be replaced.”

Newer septic tanks have better filtration and funnel less solid waste to underground drainfields, which means less sewage would leach into groundwater and the lagoon, said Zorc, a longtime builder.

Still, even well-functioning systems can pollute the lagoon if they were built too close to the water, Zorc said. In that case, the household should connect to a central sewer.

The main snag is cost, Zorc said.

Baker said there are loan programs that let people pay for sewer connections over time at a lower interest rate. So fees should not be a barrier, he said.

County and city programs differ.

County residents close enough to sewer lines to hook up would pay could pay the $2,800 connection fee over five years at a 5.75 percent interest rate, said Cindy Corrente, county utilities manager.

About 3,000 households in Vero Beach’s service area are on septic, but only 10 have access to city sewer, so the rest would need to pay $15,000-plus to have new lines installed, said Rob Bolton, the city’s water and sewer director.

These customers could spread the payments throughout 20 years while paying interest at about the prime rate, Bolton said.

Grants also might be available to help homeowners pay for upgrades or to hook to a municipal sewer if it protects a major water resource, Zorc said, adding he will ask water management officials, state lawmakers and congressional leaders about possible grants.

However, state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said he’s not inclined to change people’s methods for sewage disposal or pursue state and federal grants to pay for the changes. He said he voted to repeal the state law requiring septic tank inspections, believing it was undue government intrusion.

Negron, who spearheaded a state Senate committee to study the lagoon’s ills, said he wants to concentrate on restoring the Everglades and countering the harmful effects of Lake Okeechobee releases. Still, he is willing to listen to LaPointe, whom U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, invited to speak about septic pollution at the committee’s Aug. 22 meeting in Stuart.


Septic systems installed before 1983 cause the most concern.

Aside from aging, the systems can be 25 feet from waterways — some are closer — and the drainfields that hold waste can be 6 inches above groundwater.

State codes enacted in 1983 require the systems to be set back at least 50 feet from a waterway and the drainfield to be at least 2 feet above groundwater. However, the old systems — some of them installed in the 1960s — were grandfathered in. Even if they’re replaced, the owners can keep the 25-foot setback from surface water, said Cheryl Dunn, Indian River County’s environmental health director.

If well-maintained, the average septic system works properly for about 18 years, Dunn said.

Dunn said her health agents don’t look at a septic system unless someone complains, usually because of a stench. A failing system leaks long before it emits foul odors, she said.

“That’s the problem with septic systems,” Dunn said. “They’re put into the ground and forgotten.”


Lagoon sewage is the worst in Indian River County, especially during the rainy season.

Heavy storm runoff funneled through the main relief canal combined with a lack of incoming saltwater cause sewage levels to swell, experts say.

Tests show the nutrients that feed algal blooms were the highest when salinity was the lowest, and it coincided with water control districts releasing a high volume of stormwater, LaPointe said.

Dumping stormwater here has a similar effect, though on a smaller scale, as Lake Okeechobee’s freshwater being released into the St. Lucie River, LaPointe said. Increased stormwater carries more sewage, he said, noting the nitrogen isotopes — a chief sewage indicator — spiked to 9 parts per million during the wet seasons.

Another lagoon researcher said the water is often stagnant, allowing nutrients to build up.

Much of the lagoon north of Fort Pierce is enclosed, and the Sebastian Inlet is too small to flush it out adequately, said Grant Gilmore, senior scientist for Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Science, a Vero Beach research firm.

The county also has thousands of septic systems in low areas near the lagoon, which itself is troublesome, LaPointe said.

In the coming year, a Harbor Branch student will trace the sources of the lagoon’s sewage. That will include looking at canals that link the lagoon to areas with septic systems.

LaPointe and Franklin both say urbanization has dealt a double blow to the lagoon.

Marshes that captured and filtered runoff were replaced with subdivisions that drain more waste into the lagoon, they say.

Franklin slows his boat as he cruises through a manatee protection zone not far from his house. He grumbles that the slow zone is pointless because there are no more manatees here.

“I’m 84, and they’re not going to fix this in my lifetime,” he said.

Click here to see a graphic showing dissolved inorganic nitrogen levels, which feed algae blooms in the lagoon.

Click here for a chart showing nitrogen isotopes in microalgae from sewage impacted coastal waters.

Click here for a chart that represents the amount of macroalgae recorded in the Indian River Lagoon during 2011 and 2012. It also shows the amount of macroalgae represented when when sewage is present.




Indian River County:37,000, roughly half issued before 1983. Of the 900 systems on the barrier island — where they’re more likely to be near waterways — 747 are more than 30 years old

St. Lucie County:45,000, about 18,000 date back before 1983

Martin County: 40,000, officials didn’t know how many predate 1983



Before 1983:

• Septic systems could be 25 feet from waterways, and some were allowed to be closer.

• Drainfields that hold waste can be 6 inches above groundwater at seasonal high.

• Roughly half of Florida’s 2.7 million septic systems were installed before 1983.


1983 and later:

• Septic systems must be at least 50 feet from a waterway

• Drainfields must be at least 2 feet above groundwater at seasonal high.

• Pre-1983 systems grandfathered in.

Source: Florida Department of Health



A law passed in 2010 required homeowners to inspect septic systems at their expense every five years and called for health officials to ensure all 2.7 million systems statewide were checked every five years. If serious flaws were found, such as leaky tanks, the owners would have to repair or replace the systems.

The law stirred an outcry.

Homeowners, tea party leaders and other critics pressured the Legislature into repealing the law in 2012. Counties were put in charge of inspections and can choose not to do them. Indian River and St. Lucie counties do no routine inspections. Martin County inspects about 120 systems yearly, a fraction of its inventory.

Reader Comment: Committee Meeting

Another concerned citizen, Pam, sent in this info about a committee meeting on August 22.  The committee members will be discussing how to address the Okeechobee dumping and we can send in our comments.  See Pam’s note below on how to do so.  Thanks so much, Pam!! #savethelagoon !


In case you do not yet have this info: go to http://www.flsenate.gov and click on “Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin” for info on the August 22 workshop being held 1pm – 9pm at the Charles & Rae Kane Center, 900 SE Salerno Rd, Stuart.

The public may attend, and there will be time at the end of the meeting for “Public Testimony”. Sen. Joe Negron is the Chair of this Select Committee, along with 7 other FL Senators. When you go to the webpage, you can also click on the link “Workshop List of Participants” to see the names of those on each Panel, the agenda, invited officials and speakers. Their outline states “Specifically, participants will be asked to discuss the short term options or alternatives to reduce or eliminate the current releases from Lake Okeechobee”. On this site, there is a form to submit your comments to the Select Committee.

Another website for info on members of the Select Committee: http://www.flsenate.gov/Committees/Show/SIRO

Thanks for the great work you are doing to help save our Indian River Lagoon, St. Lucie River, marine life and wildlife. I read that Sanibel Island beaches are also being dumped on from Lake Okeechobee, via the Caloosahatchee River. The Mayor & City Coucil of Sanibel have written a letter to the Senate Select Committee, urging them to include the Caloosahatchee River with the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee issue.

I hope this info helps. It would be great if you could pass on this info, so people can make their voices heard to the committee before the hearing on Aug. 22.

Keep up the good work and keep the faith! Together, we can make a difference!

Pam Muse, Casselberry, FL

NOAA to investigate dolphin deaths

Found here: http://www.news-journalonline.com/article/20130724/NEWS/130729866?p=2&tc=pg&tc=ar

NOAA to investigate dolphin deaths in Indian River Lagoon

Photos from Hubbs Sea-World
Published: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 1:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, July 24, 2013 at 11:14 p.m.

Federal officials will launch a formal investigation into a dolphin die-off in the central and northern parts of the Indian River Lagoon as the number of dead dolphins creeps toward 10 percent of the lagoon’s entire dolphin population.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Wednesday it will create a task force to look into the dolphin deaths, which were formally declared an unusual mortality event this week under terms of the federal marine mammal protection act.

The task force will work separately from a task force already investigating more than 120 manatee deaths in the lagoon, but some of the same scientists may be working in both investigations and the two groups will communicate and coordinate closely, said Blair Mase, Southeast regional marine mammal stranding coordinator for NOAA Fisheries.

The dolphin and manatee deaths are just two of a number of unusual events occurring in the Indian River Lagoon system, which started after a long drought and several bouts of freezing temperatures in 2010 and 2011. A phytoplankton bloom covered much of the lagoon in the summer of 2011, then a brown tide algae bloomed in the summer of 2012 and this spring.

The lagoon is a system of estuaries and waterways that lie along Florida’s east coast, beginning at Ponce de Leon Inlet in Volusia County and stretching 156 miles south to Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County.

Scientists have not yet determined the cause of death for the manatees, dolphins or the more than 250 dead pelicans that have been discovered. While many people suspect poor water quality may be a factor, no definitive links have been established yet.

More than a dozen agencies and organizations are working together in the search for answers. A state Senate committee was created last week to look into lagoon issues and coordinate water management.

Since Jan. 1, 51 dolphins have been found dead in the northern Brevard County portion of the lagoon, nearly twice the normal number, said Erin Fougeres, a NOAA biologist and stranding program administrator for the Southeast.

“It’s a significant number,” said Megan Stolen, a biologist with Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute in Orlando. “We’re a little worried.

In aerial surveys of the entire lagoon system from Ponce Inlet to Jupiter Inlet in South Florida, Hubbs has estimated the dolphin population at about 700, Stolen said.

An independent panel of experts in marine mammal health and toxicology concluded this week that the dolphin deaths meet the criteria of an unusual mortality event, Fougeres said. That opens a formal investigative process and means additional resources will be available from a national contingency fund.

The manatee investigation was opened months ago. The two investigations will remain separate in part because the circumstances of the deaths are different.

“We definitely need to coordinate and communicate,” Mase said. “There may be similar factors impacting all of these species.”

The manatees appear to be dying quickly, while the dolphins are emaciated. But investigators have noticed apparent changes in the diets of both animals, with researchers finding macroalgal seaweed-type plants in the stomachs of the manatees and invertebrates rather than fish in the dolphins.

Manatees normally eat seagrass and dolphins typically eat fish associated with seagrasses in the lagoon. But tens of thousands of acres of seagrass have disappeared across the lagoon since the widespread algal blooms began occurring.

“There seems to be some sort of ecosystem thing going on,” Mase said, “and that’s what we’re going to be looking into, but we’re not ruling anything out at this point.”

Stolen said the dolphins seem to be “eating somewhat unusual items,” adding they still need to do “a lot more investigation to say that’s really an outcome or a contributing factor.”

While the dolphins in 2013 have been generally emaciated, a few factors are hampering the investigation, Stolen said.

The first is that many of the dolphins have been “scavenged by large sharks,” she said. “We all know there are sharks in the river, that’s a common finding, but in this case, it’s a bit extreme.”

That has prevented them from finding and keeping high quality samples for testing, in part because it speeds up decomposition.

“We don’t think the sharks are causing the die-off, but it’s causing a problem for the investigation,” she said.

Researchers also are concerned because dolphin calving season is approaching in August. Already in the past three weeks they’ve found three dead calves. Stolen said they don’t know if that’s because the calves have lost their mothers or if they are becoming part of the die-off. If it’s a dietary issue, the calves wouldn’t directly be affected, she said, because they’re still dependent on their moms for milk.

The investigations could take weeks, months or even years.

“It’s not going to be quick,” said Mase. “Analysis takes a lot of time, especially when you’re looking at a lot of factors, like seagrass, toxin anaylsis and water quality.”

Two mass stranding events have occurred among dolphins in the lagoon, one in 2001 and one in 2008. In both cases, investigators never determined a cause of death.

Tainted Water could spoil mullet run

On Aug. 10, a group of friends and anglers will gather in Wabasso to enjoy an annual fishing tradition. Armed with cast nets, they’ll go out onto the waters of the Indian River Lagoon and fish for the largest striped mullet.

Phillip Pederson said some in the group are commercial fishermen, while others are local with long connections to the water. The whole event is all in good fun, but this year, that fun may be tempered a bit by the quality of the water they will be cast netting into.

By August, the northern reaches of the Treasure Coast begin to show signs of more and more small schools of mullet gathering together. Some of the mullet are about as long as a man’s finger known as finger mullet and they will eventually amass numbers into the billions as they gather in nearshore estuaries and start to travel south along Florida’s peninsula.

Anglers like Pederson wonder, however, how good that run of mullet is going to be this year.

“It seems like many of our fishing patterns are at least a month late,” he said. “It could be all the runoff, and of course, in the northern lagoon, there isn’t any grass and mullet live in the seagrass.”

Pederson said this time of year, he can observe when the mullet are starting to get ready to move when he sees schools of the important bait fish sweeping around the ends of docks near his home.

“The second day of lobster mini-season, the water coming out of Sebastian Inlet looked like it was flowing out of a coffee pot,” he said.

Grant Gilmore, scientist with Estuarine, Coastal and Ocean Science in Vero Beach, said mullet are to marine estuaries as the buffalo are to the Great Plains.

“They are like cows, they are grazers. They graze on plants, algae, bacteria, fungi and microorganisms low in the food chain we never see,” Gilmore said.

Mullet are one of the chief fishes found in the waters of the Indian River Lagoon. They are also found along beaches, up into brackish and freshwater rivers and area canals, and offshore out into the Gulf Stream.

“Mullet have a high productivity rate, converting all that energy they gather from what they eat into protein that goes into all the organisms that eat them,” Gilmore said.

Nearly everything that lives in, and along, the Indian River Lagoon eats mullet.

They are a primary food source for birds of prey and water birds, bottlenose dolphins and scores of fish species.

“Mullet represent the highest biomass of any fish that spends time in the mangrove communities and near the shorelines of the Indian River Lagoon,” Gilmore said.

Typically, this time of year, silver mullet about a year old migrate to the south, where they winter in the warmer waters of Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay and the Everglades. By October or November, the striped mullet push offshore where they are believed to spawn.

Geoff Quatraro of White’s Tackle in Fort Pierce said it’s a bit early to predict whether this year’s mullet run will be what the predators in the estuary require or whether it will be a year where few mullet migrate through the area due to poor water quality.

“Weather patterns may have more to do with the success of the mullet run than the runoff,” Quatraro said. “We made need to feel a decent cold front in order to get the push started.”

Quatraro said in Fort Pierce, the thick of the run occurs in September and into early October. He remembers fishing in 2004 between Hurricanes Frances and Jeanne, both September storms, when the mullet run and the fishing was spectacular.

Farther south, anglers are keeping an eye on the detrimental effects of the discharges from the St. Lucie Canal into the St. Lucie River and southern Indian River Lagoon. At maximum discharges, some 4.5 billion gallons of water per day, there is a several knot current pushing all the way out into the Atlantic Ocean.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen, but most of us are afraid to touch the water,” said Capt. Ed Zyak of Local Color Guide Service in Jensen Beach.

That sentiment is reflected by Pederson.

“I really don’t know what it’s going to be like,” Pederson said of the mullet run.


DIET: Zooplankton, dead plant matter, and detritus.

DIGESTIVE SYSTEM: Mullet have thick-walled gizzard-like segments in their stomach along with a long gastrointestinal tract that enables them to feed on detritus.

KEY FISH: They are an ecologically important link in estuarine communities. They feed by sucking up the top layer of sediments, striped mullet remove detritus and microalgae. They also pick up some sediments which function to grind food in the gizzard-like portion of the stomach.

GRASS CLEANERS: Mullet graze on epiphytes and epifauna from seagrasses as well as ingest surface scum containing microalgae at the air-water interface.

Water-based businesses struggle, no end in sight

From TCPalm: http://www.tcpalm.com/news/2013/jul/31/water-dependent-businesses-along-st-lucie-river-la/

Water-dependent businesses along St. Lucie River, lagoon struggle

  • By Jon Shainman, WPTV NewsChannel 5
  • Posted July 31, 2013 at 7:02 p.m.
  • ERIC HASERT/TREASURE COAST NEWSPAPERS  Dan Neumann (center), owner of Coastal Paddle Boarding in Port Salerno, launches several paddle boards and a kayak into Manatee Pocket from his dock located at 4290 S.E. Salerno Road  in Port Salerno on Friday.  'It's a shame because we got beautiful waterways  here in Martin County, ..but it's obviously a problem when we can't get out on the water because the health department is issuing statements like they do, because the Army Corps of Engineers is dumping water into the river,' Neumann said about conditions in the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.  Dan Neumann, cq 
PHOTOGRAPHED: Friday JULY 19, 2013


PORT SALERNO — At Coastal Paddleboards, Don Neumann takes out the flag that would have signified he was open. A sign nearby declares you can’t rent boards from his dock in the Manatee Pocket.

“We have slowly seen a decline in our business and now it has reached a crescendo,” said Neumann.

He and his wife Rochelle are in their fourth summer of operation, and this one is clearly trouble.

“The simple fact that 100 percent of our business takes place on these waters, it has completely pulled the rug out from under us,” said Dan Neumann.

Click here to read the TCPalm story from July 21 on the water quality’s effect on recreational businesses.

Rochelle Neumann says before the Lake Okeechobee freshwater releases, she could see to the bottom from her dock. But not anymore. Wednesday’s warning to stay out of the water because of toxic blue-green algae in the area couldn’t have come at a worse time. Their business does best in the summer because of the warm water.

“People are not afraid to fall in the water … until now. Nobody wants to fall in the water period,” said Rochelle Neumann.

So the Neumanns have to become explorers, and find new places to put in. Wednesday, they brought a few customers to Jimmy Graham Park in Hobe Sound. While these out of town customers didn’t cancel, many others have shied away.

“We have had cancelations due to the water issues without a doubt,” said Dan Neumann.

The Neumanns are hoping they can make it through the rest of the summer.

They’ll be joining a protest planned for 10 a.m. Saturday at Phipps Park in Stuart right by the St. Lucie Locks where all the freshwater is coming in from Lake Okeechobee.