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Releases From the Port Mayaca Lock Resume After Second 3-Day Suspension Within the Past 10-Days

Port Mayaca Lock and Dam.jpg

South Florida - Wednesday March 8, 2023: For the second time in the past 10-days, the U.S. Army Corps (USACE) last Sunday suspended releases from the Port Mayaca Lock into the St. Lucie Estuary after algae was observed on the Lake Okeechobee side of the lock.

"Releases were suspended on Sunday afternoon due to some visible algae at the Port Mayaca Lock," said USACE spokeswoman Erica Skolte. However she said "it is incorrect to assume that if there is any algae, it’s toxic, especially this early in the year."

The Port Mayaca Lock feeds into the St. Lucie Estuary and releases in the past have sometimes brought toxic algae blooms causing serious environmental damage to the region.

Skolte said "there was no visible algae reported at S-308 (the Port Mayaca Lock and Dam) spillway or on lake" as of Wednesday morning. And because "the C-44 canal was down to 13 ft. when operators opened up ... we have started to release out of S-308 to refill the canal back up to 14-14.2 for navigation and water users."

However the "S-80 (the St. Lucie Lock and Dam) remains closed at this point," said Skolte.

The temporary closure of the Mayaca Lock and Dam this past Sunday, March 5, followed the Monday February 27 closure that lasted for 3 days after aerial photos indicated that an algae mass was moving towards the gate from Lake Okeechobee. Samples were taken and tested for toxins but the Army Corps said that the results "were under detection limits.”

In this case while "visible algae" was sighted, Skolte emphasized that "all of the sample test results returned recently have been under detection limits" adding that "not all algae release toxins, and even algae that sometimes release toxins do not release toxins all the time."

Skolte said that satellite images of Lake Okeechobee "indicate that there is little algae on the surface of the lake at this point."