Pollution levels dropping in St. Lucie River

Mixed results after one year of action plan

Jacob Hemingway shows off his catch from underneath the Roosevelt Bridge in Stuart.  Half a dozen healthy looking fish stare blankly.  Hemingway has heard all the warnings, but has no problem eating his catch of the day.

 

"It hasn't been too bad, there hasn't been any discolored fish or anything like that," Hemingway said.

 

While we aren't seeing massive blooms of toxic algae this summer, it's what you can't see, that can still cause problems.

 

Wednesday, the Department of Environmental Protection hosted a meeting to discuss its the Basin Management Action Plan or "BMAP" for the St. Lucie River and Estuary.

 

Charts show that while nitrogen levels are below where the state had hoped to be after year one, it's a different story when it comes to phosphorus.

 

"We recognize that the water quality at this time is not meeting the nutrient reduction goals we have established," said Environmental Consultant Katie Hallas with the DEP.

 

Nitrogen and phosphorus can damage sea grass beds and the oysters that help filter out pollution.

 

Sandy Tortis lives on the St. Lucie and has seen the pollution up close.

 

"At one point enjoyed seeing manatee and dolphin come by. We're not seeing that anymore," she said.

 

Tortis says this summer is better than last, but that's of small consolation.

 

"We worry about every other type of environment, why are we not worrying about our river?," Tortis asked.

 

Many people are worried and are doing something about it. A number of water quality projects were completed in the past year at the local and county levels designed to reduce the nutrient outflow and a lot of municipalities have drafted tougher fertilizer ordinances to keep nutrients out of the river during the rainy season. But when you talk to those who love the river, everyone will tell you there is no quick fix.

 
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