TOXIC WATER: Army Corps reduces Lake O releases

Decision comes one day before senate committee

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. - The Army Corps of Engineers made an announcement  Wednesday, because of the current lake level was reducing the amount of fresh water discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the Indian River Lagoon.

The drop will be from about 3.1 billion gallons a day, to a little more than 1.8 billion gallons a day.

Despite the signs that have been up for months warning of the toxic blue-green algae in parts of the St. Lucie River, Jeff Gregory still decided to go out on the water by the Stuart Causeway on his windsurfing board.


"It's definitely a risk. I know if I make a mistake and fall in the water, I'm probably going to get some kind of sickness or something," said Gregory.


With billions of gallons in freshwater discharges coming from Lake Okeechobee since May, a lot of damage has already been done to the environment.

From dead oysters, to sick dolphins.


Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a Sewall's Point Commissioner and one of the many speakers Thursday at a day-long Senate Select Committee on the Lagoon and the Lake hosted by state Senator Joe Negron.


"Once you start getting this stuff documented, on the books not just something coming up in a meeting, but documented, things have to start happening," said Thurlow-Lippisch.


Senator Negron said it's clear from rallies, to Governor Rick Scott's visit Tuesday, that he time for talk is over.


"This community is extraordinarily passionate about the devastation caused by these releases from Lake Okeechobee," said the Stuart Republican.


People like Jeff Gregory are counting on change.  Gregory has seen this  before when he lived on Lake Apopka in Central Florida.


"It used to be one of the top bass fishing grounds in the state and then it died up.  Everything went bad up there and I'd hate to see the same thing happen here," said Gregory.


The last bacteria reading done by the Martin County Health Department this week for the Stuart Sandbar was actually in the good range and for the first time in two months, the waters by Sandsprit Park in Port Salerno did not register poor levels for bacteria.


Health officials though say they need several weeks of consistent readings before removing any health advisories.

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