Tourism is a vital industry in Martin County that depends on the support of our local community. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us in protecting our paradise, and we urge you to stand with us in the meantime by continuing to support our many locally owned, tourism-dependent businesses. We are actively promoting the many areas of our county that are untouched and open for business, including attractions, shopping, arts, and events.
As we work to protect our paradise, it is important that we remember and share the things we love most about Martin County. While our waterways are threatened, there are still countless activities to enjoy in the area.
Unusually heavy rainfall in our area has resulted in large volumes of freshwater being discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River and Estuary.
Water runoff from the river watershed and freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee is causing the color. This freshwater contains tannins from plants and other organic material that give the water a darker color.
That depends on the current and projected weather conditions, as well as conditions in the tributaries that flow into Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie River. Because of the higher than normal rainfall through the beginning of the rainy season system-wide, water releases from Lake Okeechobee will likely continue. If the lake releases are stopped, conditions could improve in a relatively short period of time.
Check out our beach cams to get a first hand view of current conditions.
All beaches are open and safe for swimming, they are tested weekly and results are posted at Florida Healthy Beaches Program website.
Blue-green algae, or “cyanobacteria,” are natural to the environment’s food chain and are found all over the world. They are actually a type of bacteria but, like plants, they can use sunlight to grow.
Blue-green algae are a group of organisms that are among the oldest on the planet. They can be found in marine waters as well as freshwater and brackish habitats.
Some – not all – blue-green algae can produce toxins that can contribute to environmental problems and affect public health. Those blue-green algae that are known to produce toxins do not always do so. Little is known about exactly what environmental conditions trigger toxin production.
Blooms can float on the surface and be several inches thick or they can lie below the surface of the water. Blooms can disappear from view or move to different parts of a waterbody.
Blue-green algae multiply quickly in water bodies with high nutrient levels such as phosphorous or nitrogen, and particularly when the water is warm and the weather is calm. That’s why blue-green algae are most common in Florida in the summer and early fall, with its high temperatures and abundant sunlight, although they can occur at any time.
Waters that flow slowly with low turbulence – such as impounded rivers, dams, or water storages – are at particularly high risk of algal blooms.
Blue-green algae growth can become seemingly explosive when lots of nutrients are present, providing a rich feast that can then cause “blooms” that may look like floating carpets of blue-green algae turning the water green.
Increased nutrient loading in our waterways has likely contributed to increased frequencies of blooms in our freshwater systems.
Blooms can last days, weeks or months, depending on conditions. Scientists cannot predict when or where blooms will occur or how long they will last; the blooms run their course and dissipate naturally.
Microcystis toxin is measured in micrograms / liter. Over 10 micrograms/liter triggers posting of “no human contact” signs. Florida Department of Environmental Protection has a sampling schedule and posts results from samples tested here.
Please report algae blooms or sightings to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) at (855) 305-3903 or online here.
The Office of Tourism and Marketing is diligently continuing to promote Martin County. We are working closely with County staff and officials to remain informed about water conditions.
Martin County staff is in daily contact with the Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental Protection Agency, Florida Department of Health and other agencies regarding the releases.
Should water conditions changes signs will be posted for safety.
Tourism is a vital industry in Martin County and we urge you to stand together with us in helping support our local businesses during these challenging times.