MARTIN COUNTY, Fla. — WPTV is committed to Protecting Paradise. We are focused on environmental issues with a goal of helping to bring awareness to existing problems and search for workable solutions. Have a story idea? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Campsites are completely booked for the 2019 holiday weekend at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam. It’s quite a difference compared to last summer when signs were posted throughout the area warning visitors not to swim or eat fish from the water.
“We have some friends coming in, and I guess 10 boats later on for fireworks, you know to celebrate,” said Pamela Price.
Price is not only excited to celebrate America’s independence but freedom from blue-green algae in the water.
“That was the first question I said to your gentleman here, ‘I said they’re not opening that lock are they,’” said Kevin Curran.
Blue-green algae no longer coat the water's surface, yet the fear of it coming back still lingers.
“We fish all the time,” said Curran.
In July 2018, microsystin, a toxin produced by blue-green algae was found in the area to be more than 15 times higher than what the EPA considers a hazardous level; 9 parts per billion.
“Yea, you could smell it,” said Price.
This year, at the urging of lawmakers, the Army Corps of Engineers drastically cut back on the number of releases happening from Lake Okeechobee.
Currently, Lake Okeechobee is measuring at 11.3 feet. Officials say they won’t consider releases until the level is at 12 feet because that’s when it starts to put pressure on the dike.