NewsProtecting Paradise


From #toxic18 to possibly #clean19

Posted at 10:51 AM, Jan 03, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-03 19:41:45-05

MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — What a year it was for our water in 2018.

🌴 SPECIAL COVERAGE: Protecting Paradise 🌴

There was blue-green algae in both the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers. Also red tide, not just on west coast of Florida, but also the east coast.

RELATED: 2018 brings algae, red tide, and controversy to South Florida

2018 was given the nickname #toxic18 in Florida by many.

At Central Marine in Stuart, Mary Radabaugh will have five scrapbooks, one for every algae crisis.

"Toxic algae episodes in Martin County," said Radabaugh.

She has many photos of algae on her phone from this past Summer. She plans to add them to her 2018 scrapbook.

"On and off blue-green algae for four months," said Radabaugh.

However, she said there seems to be some momentum to fix the issue.

"Moving things to look like they’re going in the right direction," said Radabaugh.

That’s why on social media these days, #clean19 is making the rounds.

"There is optimism," said Mark Perry at Florida’s Oceanographic Society.

"Myopically optimistic," said John Maehl, Martin County’s ecosystem manager.

Maehl said Lake Okeechobee’s water level is dropping and we could have good conditions heading into the wet season, though it all depends on mother nature.

There’s also a lot of talk about recent bills passed and possible future changes.

"Water Resources Development Act, new project south of the lake, EAA Reservoir is going to be underway," said Perry. "Then there will be changes to the Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule."

The 2018 WRDA Bill mandates an expedited review of the Lake Okeechobee regulation schedule. LORS determines when water must be discharged from the lake.

Congressman Brian Mast has also introduced a bill called the Stop Harmful Discharges Act which "makes public health and safety, including prevention of toxic cyanobacteria and the integrity of the Herbert Hoover Dike, the primary project purpose for the management of Lake Okeechobee."

Meanwhile on the local level, the county continues to work on septic to sewer conversions.

"10,000 units in the next 10 years. It’s going to require legislative support," said Maehl.

Everyone hopes this year will in fact be known as #clean19.

"That would be great," said Radabaugh. "We could talk about how wonderful all the species of fish that are back. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?"