The Lake Okeechobee Watershed covers more than 2.9 million acres and consists of 9 sub-watersheds. Lake Okeechobee is the liquid heart of the Everglades. We visited Lake Okeechobee while in Okeechobee FL the lake is 40 miles long and 30 miles wide. Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution feeds dangerous algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee. The lake is heavily polluted. Currently, there is an estimated 50,000 tons of phosphorus on the once sandy lake bed of Lake Okeechobee. Community Pulse Episode 3: Dr. Paul Gray of Audubon Florida and independent scientist Dr. Gary Goforth explain the pollution problem in Florida's Lake Okeechobee. The federal government and the state have approved a $1.6 billion plan to clean and store some of the lake water, but it still has not been funded. Pollution, such as runoff from farms, and lake water that warms through the summer, create an environment favorable for growth. Lake Okeechobee's water has multiple uses, including drinking water, agricultural irrigation, and even navigation. For all the things that change in South Florida — the skyline, the swelling population, sea level — one thing has remained remarkably constant: pollution in Lake Okeechobee. By Paul Kruse marine biologist and oceanographer. Developed by STW™ Website Migration, Development & Design Team. In Toledo, Ohio, a bloom in Lake Erie caused a tap water ban in nearby towns in 2014; the next year, the coast of Qingdao in China was hit with an algae bloom. DEP identified Lake Okeechobee as not meeting water quality standards for nutrients. She is a 110 pound cougar. ii In compliance with the provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C §1251 et. Lake Okeechobee has a surface area of nearly 730 square miles and is the second largest freshwater lake wholly within the United States. Clewiston, on the 750 square-mile lake's southern shore, has the most to offer vacationers, especially those intent on hooking into the lake's legendary largemouth bass and speckled perch. Yet, the Everglades still claims the top spot as the most diverse wetland in the United States. Lake Okeechobee has been grappling with algae blooms for months. But sadly, over the last few months, Lake Okeechobee has been villainized and portrayed as a reservoir of dirty water. Under water, the entire marine ecosystem is at risk. When the groundwater drains through this soil, it picks up the phosphorus and moves it into Lake Okeechobee. It is an effect of pollutants running into the watershed that feeds into Lake Okeechobee — a watershed that connects to Orlando. Wildlife like manatees can choke to death. Unfortunately, over the years, the Lake has become heavily polluted by run-off from … … Anywhere from 7 – 8 million people rely on water from Lake Okeechobee and many thousands more use the lake recreationally. They have become problematic in other parts of the world as temperatures rise and water pollution worsens. by minimizing the use of pesticides and chemicals. seq., as amended by the Water Quality Act of 1987, P.L. Menu Home; Contact; Author: algaepollution Tracker . Our biggest holding tank for water, Lake Okeechobee, can’t take the load. This is Tracker. Therefore, this article will firstly explore the Lake Okeechobee phosphorus pollution problem. This is Tracker. By Paul Kruse marine biologist and oceanographer. Formed over 6,000 years ago, the Everglades is home to two Indigenous tribes whose ancestors have been in the area since before the Everglades formed. After heavy rains, the Army Corps of Engineers released millions of gallons to relieve pressure on the lake's old … Under present water law Lake Okeechobee is does not quality as “point source pollution.” If it did a permit would be required to dump into our estuaries. During her 16 years she was my house cat and close friend. On top of this, the Everglades offers the only place where both alligators and crocodiles coexist. Toxic algae bloom threatens Florida waters, Toxic algae leads Ohio to designate western Lake Erie as "impaired", Toxic algae becoming severe threat nationwide, California Privacy/Information We Collect. Unfortunately, this “liquid heart” of the Everglades is being polluted. In the early 19th century it … Biologist John Cassani has been collecting samples, and warning about the health hazards. From about the 1940s to the 1980s, the agricultural industry doused the area with phosphorus rich fertilizer. All Rights Reserved. As a result these blooms are killing aquatic animals and plants. The phosphorus created toxic algae blooms are harmful to the Everglades and South Florida. Consequently, this use of the fragile ecosystem has reduced the area to half of what it was 100 years ago. Lake Okeechobee is fed by the Kissimmee River basin, a fertile area in South Florida which has been farmed for hundreds of years. Lake Okeechobee is also used for public water supplies, which have been contaminated as well due to the pollution. She is a 110 pound cougar. To track and time water movement, scientists will dye water different colors. During her 16 years she was my house cat and close friend. "It's not looking good for the future," Wittman said. Sebastian Lahara held a mock funeral for his kayak rental operation, and Wittman said he has lost $20,000 on canceled trips this summer. Water pollution in Florida's Lake Okeechobee has reached new record levels and threatens to get worse, according to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency figures jointly released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) and the Council of Civic Associations, Inc. Watch CBS News anytime, anywhere with the our 24/7 digital news network. The pond apple tree is recognized as an important nesting habitat for wading birds and a trellis for the Okeechobee gourd, which is now protected as an endangered species by federal law. ii In compliance with the provisions of the Federal Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C §1251 et. 12 Oct 2013. As a result of this pollution, on July 2, 2018, NOAA satellite image indicated that 90 percent of the surface of Lake Okeechobee was covered with a blue green algae bloom ( Fishing guides and resorts help out with that goal. There are new concerns for Southwest Florida water quality. The phosphorus created toxic algae blooms are harmful to the Everglades and South Florida. Secondly, we will look at 6 ways you can help. Phosphorus forms a strong chemical bond with soil. The Toxic Effects of Chlorine as a Drinking Water Disinfectant, Groundwater Contamination in the Nation’s Breadbasket, the Central Valley of California, The Unexpected Pollutive Effect of Goldfish on our Lakes. Mayaimi, meaning "big water," is the oldest known name, as reported in the 16th century, by Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda. After all, the 730 square miles of freshwater is bound to attract wildlife, right? For additional information, contact: David Guest, Earthjustice (850) 681-0031 Monica Reimer, Earthjustice (850) 681-0031 . Being the largest lake in the state of Florida, it is only natural that Lake Okeechobee is home to various wildlife – some of which are classified as endangered species. Now, the Everglades drives the multi-billion dollar economies of agriculture, recreation, and tourism. This is Tracker. Ochoa, Julio. The Lake Okeechobee BMAP was adopted in December 2014 to implement the … To humans the algae blooms are not only unsightly, they can be toxic. I am a biologist, with an interest in finding out how deep do a wild animals so called “wild instincts” go. Phosphorus — Natural versus Pollution Levels: Lake Okeechobee Case Study Jack E. Rechcigl Range Cattle Research and Education Center University of Florida, Ona Introduction The quality of our environment has become the predominant issue of today . Impacts of excessive phosphorus entering the lake 2. Despite its impressive size, the lake is shallow, with an average depth of only 9 feet. A lot of plant life in the water around the shores that extended pretty far out into the lake where we were At by the pier. Toxic algal blooms are not unique to Florida. What a … Blue gills, Okeechobee catfish and black crappies are other local catches. More: Record amount of nutrient pollution flows into Lake Okeechobee. Lake Okeechobee and Algae Pollution. In the years since, though, Lake Okeechobee’s pollution levels have grown, thanks mostly to intensive cattle and nursery operations, sewage-sludge spreading and vegetable farms that operate east, west, and north of the lake. "Controversial Lake Okeechobee flowway stays on restoration list." Located in South Florida, they are a vital and sensitive ecosystem. She is a 110 pound cougar. Each plant plays a role in the ecosystem, and some may even offer answers to how we can improve our agricultural methods. Meeting Governor DeSantis’ January 10, 2020 Deadline for Updating BMAPs . Lake Okeechobee Tributaries Osceola, Polk, Okeechobee, Highlands, Glade, and Martin, Florida . Curious Mystery - Skeletons in Lake Okeechobee : Prior to 1910, early pioneers reported seeing human skeletons in the shallows around the southern end of the huge lake. Cyanobacteria in Lake Okeechobee seen from Port Mayaca, Florida. Often described as a thick “guacamole” like sludge. It is over seven hundred square miles. The New York Times. After heavy rains, the Army Corps of Engineers released millions of gallons to relieve pressure on the lake's old … These blooms can cause lung irritations, gastroenteritis, and skin irritations. Lake Okeechobee algae blooms have been a problem for at least the last two decades. We live in a democracy, and when we as citizens do not take our leaders in hand, we get pay to play results. The lake is also one of the critical environmental issues in the state of Florida. For my ethical issue, I will be talking about lake Okeechobee and how the pollution from the environment are destroying our lakes and wildlife. "The toxins the bacteria produce are incredibly potent. Its banks and levies aren’t strong enough to hold more than 17 feet of water. "I mean, I've canceled my trips the last few weeks because of this issue. The swollen lake … The source of the toxic blue green algae currently damaging estuarine ecosystems, regional economies and human health is a very polluted Lake Okeechobee 1 (TCPalm 2018a). Lake Okeechobee and Algae Pollution. We live in a democracy, and when we as citizens do not take our leaders in hand, we get pay to play results. seq., as amended by the Water Quality Act of 1987, P.L. Pollution of Lake Okeechobee is contaminating drinking water supplies and destroying the St. Lucie River and Estuary. Copyright © 2020 Save the Water™. This year the bloom grew large early in the season and it affected more people than usual, showing up far beyond the confines of the lakeshore. At the heart of the Everglades is Lake Okeechobee. The pier is a nice viewing point to see the lake and a few gators. The problem is that phosphorus is hard to get rid of. The Lake Okeechobee phosphorus pollution problem is caused by this unnaturally high level of phosphorus being fed into the lake. During her 16 years she was my house cat and close friend. Without a radical development in the removal or neutralization of phosphorus, it is likely that this problem will persist. The Everglades are one of the most diverse wetlands in the world. With Everglades restoration and Florida’s water issues in the forefront of the media since the year 2000 when the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was introduced, there has been an ongoing debate of how the CERP plan should be implemented. Last year, the total was 450 tons. Algae blooms are a regular phenomenon in Lake Okeechobee during the summertime. In-lake projects address three key issues: 1. Lake Okeechobee Pollution Swells To Near-Disaster Levels. Expediting Lake Okeechobee Pollution Control Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in the Southeastern United States and liquid heart of the Greater Everglades, is critical habitat for Everglades birds and wildlife. And as a result are polluting the main source of water that feeds the Everglades. Lake Okeechobee means "big water" in the Seminole Indian language, an appropriate name for a water body whose opposite shore can't be seen from the water's edge. The pier is a nice viewing point to see the lake and a few gators. To add to this, phosphorus occurs naturally in lakes and waterways. Lake Okeechobee is home to some unique trees, vines, fruits, and mosses. In short, people dried out, built on, and farmed the Everglades. Most typically, phosphorus is released when rain and flooding move the groundwater south. However, only an estimated 8 percent of the phosphorus in the Everglades and Kissimmee River basin is from residential and urban sources. Even though fertilizer recommendations and practices have changed since then, the amount of phosphorus in the soil remains high. As mentioned earlier, phosphorus sticks around for ages. The problem starts at Lake Okeechobee. Slightly later in the 16th century, René Goulaine de Laudonnièrereported hearing about a large freshwater lake in southern Florida called Serrope. Pollution aside, pure freshwater flowing into the ocean can lower salinity and disrupt marine life. In addition to the agricultural industry, other sources of phosphorus have contributed to this problem. The lake is heavily polluted. © 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. Chris Wittman said he's been fishing in southwest Florida his entire life, but the once postcard-perfect summer waters are becoming fouled by slimy and toxic green algae. The Lake Okeechobee phosphorus pollution problem is caused by this unnaturally high level of phosphorus being fed into the lake. There's neurotoxins that they produce so it's a suite of really toxic stuff that can kill wildlife and really impact people's health," Cassani said. The lake is also one of the critical environmental issues in the state of Florida. Indeed, it proves unique among wetlands on earth. Despite these other sources, most of the phosphorus comes from agriculture which accounts for an overwhelming 78 percent of the phosphorus. Under present water law Lake Okeechobee is does not quality as “point source pollution.” If it did a permit would be required to dump into our estuaries. Sun Sentinel | Jul 08, 2016 at 8:09 PM . Cyanobacteria in Lake Okeechobee seen from Port Mayaca, Florida. When that mix bakes in the summer sun, the algae population explodes. Unfortunately, over the years, the Lake has become heavily polluted by run-off from agriculture and development in Central & South Florida. When major rains overwhelmed Lake Okeechobee this summer, the Army Corps of Engineers released billions of gallons of polluted water into surrounding estuaries rather than risk a breach of the fragile dike. From about the 1940s to the 1980s, the agricultural industry doused the area with phosphorus rich fertilizer. Approximately 14 percent of the phosphorus is from natural sources. It's a recurring nightmare. New aerial images show the Lake Okeechobee water discharges reaching the Gulf of … Lake okeechobee at florida. Harmful Discharges. They affect liver function. Meaning that only a small amount is released from the soil at any given time. … OKEECHOBEE, FLA. — For all the things that change in South Florida — the skyline, the swelling population, sea level — one thing has remained remarkably constant: pollution in Lake Okeechobee. Deductible to the full extent of the Everglades serves as a Soup of toxic Chemicals: Recipe Disaster. 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