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St. Lucie Estuary Struggling with Discharge Releases
Several factors have combined to environmentally damage the St. Lucie Estuary including the effects of hurricanes, land use and water management. However, the discharging water from Lake Okeechobee combined with local stormwater runoff has killed off oysters and seagrasses, given fish lesions, caused algal blooms and raised coliform levels in the water to a point that’s unsafe for humans.

Estuaries in general and the St. Lucie Estuary in particular, contain a mixture of salt water and fresh water. Lowering salinity levels for extended periods kills the marine life that has adapted to the brackish water. In its natural state years ago, the estuary could handle periodic influxes of fresh water, but now it can’t tolerate all of the fresh water that’s being dumped into it, and neither can the organisms living in it.

 
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Non-Native Species Impacts Plant and Animal Communities - Large colonies of alien crayfish can impact submerged aquatic vegetation — the plants that help aerate the water. Losing this vegetation reduces dissolved oxygen, which further degrades water quality.


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