Is our discharge crisis over?

We may need to retire our “discharges ticker.” For the moment, anyway.

Last week the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced that once the two-week “pause” in discharges to the St. Lucie, Caloosahatchee and Lake Worth Lagoon ended April 13, the corps would NOT resume discharges to the St. Lucie River or Lake Worth Lagoon. “Beneficial” releases averaging 650 cubic feet per second would go west to the Caloosahatchee to alleviate stagnant conditions that have facilitated the growth of blue-green algae.

So first off: If you’re one of the thousands of Floridians who reached out to the Corps or South Florida Water Management District officials and told them to knock it off, kudos. They listened.

Sometimes the squeaky wheel really does get the grease.


Up to 30 named storms are in the hurricane forecast this year. Meanwhile the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has confirmed toxic blue-green algae at five Martin County locations since March 29; with no more discharges to “feed” them those blooms may peter out. But things are more complicated in the Caloosahatchee, where continued releases may flush away current blooms — but as blooms on Lake Okeechobee itself grow, more algae could be flushed INTO the estuary.

So bottom line: Our problems haven’t been solved. And it remains more important than ever to keep pushing for more water storage, and operational changes that would allow water managers to send more water south — i.e. using capacity in the stormwater treatment areas south of Lake O for lake water, not just Big Sugar’s runoff.

VoteWater’s Gil Smart spoke at today’s/the April 11 meeting of the South Florida Water Management District – catch his comments beginning at the 1:06:55 mark in this video: