Merritt Matheson Stuart Commissioner: Our estuary was dealt a major blow
The future health of our estuary was dealt a major set back over the holidays. All the dust and outcry has certainly calmed down since our latest “toxic” summer in 2018. People are talking about the St Lucie River starting to bounce back. After one of the worst summers Stuart has ever had regarding “toxic algae” we have wrapped up one of the best summers. In 2019 the St Lucie River received zero discharges directly from Lake Okeechobee. This should be the norm not the oddity.
The problem is over the holidays Col Kelly of the ACOE stated the proposed 2020 dry season management plan will be closer to that of 2018 than 2019. “Unlike last year, our focus this year will be on retaining water during the dry season” Col. Kelly stated during an opinion letter published in TC Palm 12/20/19. This is a big deal! Water retained in the Lake now during the dry season means areas like Florida Bay and the Caloosahatchee River will most likely not receive water they need. It also means that water stored in the Lake will inevitably be forced into our river in the name of flood control during the rainy season. History has proven this time and time again.
We have two options: pray for a dry 2020 or respond. Stuart cannot handle another “toxic” summer. The health and safety of our residents depends on Col Kelly working with us to again manage the Lake now in the same manner as was done in 2019.
For the Stuart City Commission meeting I have placed a discussion topic regarding responsive action to the ACOE’s proposed Lake dry season management plan. The links below contain the agenda item, background and a support letter from Congressman Mast.
Support Letter From Congressman Mast who championed the operational change that gave us 2019 Zero Discharges Summer.