Lake Okeechobee Pollution Facts And How It Affects The Environment | Kidadl


Lake Okeechobee Pollution Facts And How It Affects The Environment

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Lake Okeechobee is a lake in southern Florida, United States, and the country's third-largest freshwater lake (after Lake Michigan and Iliamna Lake, Alaska).

The lake is located on the northern edge of the Everglades, about 40 mi (65 km) northwest of West Palm Beach. It carries the Hitchiti Indian name for 'great water', as it is a relic of the prehistoric Pamlico Sea, which formerly filled the whole basin, including the Everglades.

The Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers are the system's two 'safety valves' during excess water occurrences since they were constructed in 1947 to minimize flooding south of the lake.

Lake Okeechobee is often cited as Florida's 'liquid heart'. Unfortunately, run-off from agriculture and urbanization in Central and Southwest Florida has extensively contaminated the Lake over time.

Read on to know more about the effects of the blue-green algae bloom from Lake Okeechobee on agricultural lands in Central Florida. Afterwards, also check beach pollution facts and air pollution facts.

Lake Okeechobee Discharges

Lake Okeechobee water is now frequently dumped into Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and pumped into the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean. This method also deprives Florida Bay of the freshwater it receives naturally from the Everglades.

Lake Okeechobee had traditionally and naturally poured south to the parched Everglades, until farms, cities, and homesteads erupted, obstructing the flow.

The first flood-protection barrier was built in 1915 with sand and dirt. The military Corps of Engineers erected a north- and south-shore levee from 1932 to 1938 after hurricanes in 1926 and 1928 killed 2,500 people.

Since the 1960s, the govt. has enlarged the levees to incorporate the Herbert Hoover Dike, a 143 mi (228.8 km) earthen barrier that surrounds the lake. This is often the source of the problem.

When Lake O fills and rises, the military Corps is anxious a couple of dike breaches flooding the Everglades Agricultural Area's crops, villages, and homesteads, so it diverts water east to the St. Lucie River and west to the Caloosahatchee River via the C-44 and C-43 canals, respectively. The previous building was constructed between 1916 and 1924.

Discharges from Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River are going to be decreased but will continue at an identical pace to the St. Lucie River indefinitely.

The Caloosahatchee will get 969 million gallons per day, down from a median of 1.3 billion gallons per day since February 13, in step with Col. Andrew Kelly, Florida commander of the US Army Corps of Engineers. St. Lucie will still receive 323 million gallons per day on a weekly average basis, the identical amount as before discharges began on March 6.

Harmful Algal Blooms

Several kinds of algae and bacteria, including cyanobacteria, sometimes referred to as eubacteria, are found in harmful algal blooms (HABs). Humans, wildlife, and companion animals are all in danger from HABs generated by cyanobacteria (cyanoHABs).

HABs occur often in lakes, Florida's largest inland lake. There was a widespread cyanoHAB in Lake Okeechobee starting in May 2016, which didn't start to disperse until the tip of July. Due to high water levels at the time, algal-laden water was transported from the lake to coastal regions via a system of canals and rivers, leading to beach closures in numerous Florida counties due to blue-green algae blooms.

While blue-green algae blooms are seen within the lake, nothing is thought about the species of algae present. Because certain cyanobacteria can create a variety of cyanotoxins, including neurotoxins and hepatotoxins like anatoxins, cylindrospermopsis, and saxitoxins, additionally as microcystins and other potentially dangerous metabolites, it's crucial to work out the makeup of the algal community for putting in practice environmental protection and management practices.

Scientists gathered samples before, during, and after the large 2016 cyanoHAB event in the lake for this investigation. The study report includes digital photographic evidence furthermore as a taxonomic analysis of the cyanobacteria found within the samples. the majority of the pictures were of live species, allowing the natural colouring of the organisms to be captured.

In Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River, and the St. Lucie Canal, scientists discovered 28 distinct species of algae. Several additional cyanobacteria known to come up with toxic discharges were detected in fewer quantities than the dominating organism, Microcystis aeruginosa. The Kissimmee River is the lake's largest tributary and accounts for most of the phosphorus it receives.

This research is a component of a bigger effort by the USGS Environmental Health Mission Area to supply information that will assist land managers in determining the way to effectively minimize potential health risks to humans and other organisms exposed to cyanotoxins from algal blooms and other biogenic toxins through recreational, drinkable, and other management practices.

Effect On Humans

Lake Okeechobee was first 'managed' by humans in 1847, barely two years after Florida became a state. The lake was linked to the Gulf of Mexico by 1882, due to the efforts of Hamilton Disston, the Drainage King.

The rebuilt St. Lucie Canal, on the opposite hand, allowed it to achieve the ocean in 1926. Because the lake's level was lower when its reach was increased, it absolutely was significantly smaller. That, however, was the target.

The state built an earthen 47 mi (75.2 km) levee along the southern shore to safeguard inhabitants and their crops from floods when the human population surrounding the lake reached roughly 2,000. In 1926, however, a cyclone flooded the levee, demolishing 13,000 houses and fields and killing almost 400 people. In 1928, a much more powerful hurricane caused an avalanche of water from Lake Okeechobee to descend on nearby communities, drowning a minimum of 3,000 people.

The President authorized a proposal to create a far wider barrier around Okeechobee to avoid similar catastrophes from happening again. During the good Depression, early development on the project offered jobs for several individuals. The 151-mile President Hoover Dike took 38 years to construct but is now entirely surrounded by the lake, protecting farmers and their valuable property. However, the dike has caused additional issues.

The area around the lake has become a significant agricultural producer, especially the sugar industry, not only for Florida but for the entire country, due to its fertile soil and temperate temperature. Farmers switched to artificial fertilizers when the dike stopped the regular flow of water that delivered nutrients to the mud soil. Excess nutrients from fertilizers as well as urban runoff have spilled into streams since then, disrupting vulnerable ecosystems.

The dairy, citrus, and ranching sectors around Lake Okeechobee's north end have dumped tonnes of phosphorus into the lake every year. The Okeechobee Protection Plan was created by the Florida government in 2000 to catch and reduce toxic toxins. The excellent Everglades Restoration Plan was also initiated in 2000 by the state of Florida as well as the federal government.

Effect On Aquatic Life

For months in 2016, poisonous algae plumes rendered South Florida's emerald seas coffee-colored and choked its inlets beneath a foetid layer of guacamole-green goop that killed fish, strangled oyster beds, and sparked a furious outcry from coastal residents.

Environmental damage is simply one amongst the prices that the general public bears so as for personal enterprises to remodel sugar into cash. These tropical wetlands are drained and maintained at considerable expense for many years so as to help Florida's sugar cane industry, which is dominated by two politically linked corporations. During seasons of heavy rain, several public money is spent on a regional control system that protects the cane fields from flooding and watered during droughts.

A national sugar program, which uses a mixture of central restrictions, tariffs, and loan guarantees, mandates American consumers to pay double the worldwide price for sugar. Since 1934, Congress has maintained a special program for the sugar industry.

Lake Okeechobee is thought of throughout the country for its excellent largemouth bass and crappie fishing. The lake also includes a commercial fishery that's dominated by catfish. However, the commercial fishery is additionally unique in this it's a limited entry fishery (ten nets) for haul seine gear, which is allowed to gather and sell bluegill and redear sunfish lawfully. Within the five counties around the lake, freshwater fishing retail sales were anticipated to succeed in over $117 million in 2000.

From a biological standpoint, the lake can sustain both recreational and commercial fishing interests but the rising temperatures are quickening the process of climate change, posing serious roadblocks in the success of the conservative efforts.

In the seacoast of Lake Okeechobee, changes in water level and differences in plant community structural complexity and water quality within vegetation communities have the most important impact on fish dispersion. Bulrush has always produced the best average numbers of total fish and fish in Okeechobee block net sampling. Fisheries experts have long recognized the importance of bulrush as a habitat for adult sport fish, and it's regularly planted during lake restoration and habitat enhancement efforts.

There has been great effect on the environment and economy of Florida.

Protecting Lake Okeechobee

Lake Okeechobee not only provides a natural habitat for fish, wading birds, and other wildlife, but it also is a source of water for people, farms, and therefore the environment.

It also protects against flooding, attracts boating and recreation enthusiasts, and is home to a multimillion-dollar sport and commercial fishery. However, the health of the lake is in jeopardy. Three environmental consequences have posed a danger to Lake Okeechobee's natural resources in recent decades:

Excessive phosphorus loading, detrimental high and low tide levels, and the event of alien flora.

In response to those concerns, the Florida Legislature passed the Okeechobee Protection Act in 2000, likewise because of the Okeechobee Protection Program that followed (LOPP). It is a multi-phased, comprehensive, and inventive initiative aimed toward restoring and protecting the lake by improving water quality and providing long-term solutions employing a range of various components.

The NEEPP was established in May 2007 by the Florida Legislature, expanding this Lake Okeechobee Protection Act (LOPA) to hide the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers and estuaries. The bill's main purpose is to revive and safeguard the state's surface-water resources by addressing water quality, quantity, timing, and distribution within the natural system.

The Okeechobee Protection Act was enacted to guard the lake. The lake Protection Act (LOPA; Section 373.4595, Florida Statutes) was approved in 2000. The Florida Legislature requires that the DEP, the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), and also the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) develop a lake restoration and preservation plan under LOPA. This program was to incorporate a Lake Okeechobee Protection Plan, which might include an implementation timetable for succeeding phases of phosphorus load reduction in compliance with s. 403.067's total maximum daily loads.

This initiative aims to enhance the ecological health of Lake Okeechobee and therefore the estuaries of St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers. the first state agencies entrusted with accelerating this initiative were the SFWMD, DEP, FDACS, and also the Florida Department of Community Affairs. Okeechobee Fast-Track Projects, lake Operating Schedule Revisions, Revised Environmental Resource Permitting Criteria, Alternative Water Storage and Disposal Options, Lake Okeechobee Tributary Total Maximum Daily Loads, and Mandatory Fertilizer Best Management Practices were all major components of the Lake Okeechobee Estuary and Recovery Program (BMPs).

The Everglades Restoration Plan may be a comprehensive arrangement to restore the Everglades. The excellent Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) may be a framework and guidance for restoring, protecting, and preserving the water resources of central and southern Florida. The most important purpose of CERP is to soak up fresh water that's now flowing unused into the ocean and also the Gulf of Mexico and divert it to locations that require it the most. The CERP project may be a collaboration between SFWMD and therefore the US Army Corps of Engineers. The Water Resources Development Act of 2000 gave Congress approval to the scheme.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Lake Okeechobee pollution facts then why not take a look at coal pollution facts, or car pollution facts.

Written By
Supriya Jain

<p>As a skilled member of the Kidadl team, Shruti brings extensive experience and expertise in professional content writing. With a Bachelor's degree in Commerce from Punjab University and an MBA in Business Administration from IMT Nagpur, Shruti has worked in diverse roles such as sales intern, content writer, executive trainee, and business development consultant. Her exceptional writing skills cover a wide range of areas, including SOP, SEO, B2B/B2C, and academic content.</p>

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