Demucking Lake Okeechobee is essential missing project


JL Gilio  in 1985 at LOTEC 2 stated that unless the SFWMD addressed the legacy phosphorus load in the sediments of Lake Okeechobee all other monies expended for dairy and cattle buyouts north of the lake would not decrease incoming phosphorus loading. This prediction has proven correct over the intervening 33 years. In 2001, SFWMD employed BB&T engineers to price options for removing the legacy phosphorus load of Lake Okeechobee. All 3 options ranged -in 2001 dollars - about $3 Billion. BB&T opted to do nothing, stating that the 2001 water concentration of 120 ppb TP [parts per billion Total Phosphorus] would decrease to 40 ppb TP by 2015. In 2015, the value fluctuated between 120 to 140 ppb TP. Lake Okeechobee is unable to reduce its hypereutrophic condition without major limnological remediation.   

Vogel,, 2007 from the University of Florida's biogeochemistry lab determined the sapropel [muck] content of the top 4 inches to be 101 million lbs. of phosphorus. 

Gilio, employed in the company he founded worked under contract for St. Lucie West Services District on maintenance of the development's lakes, wetlands and STA's. Through a program that he initiated for installing native plants both underwater rooted tapegrass and emergent plants with good husbandry in all wet areas has resulted in perimeter lakes and discharges off-site to average 75 ppb TP over the last 7 year span.  This level is below [better than] the Federal established TMDL [total maximum daily load] of 81 ppb TP. To Gilio's best knowledge no other surface water system of such large size and directly involving multi-developments has reached their local TMDL's. 

It is precisely this in-lake system modified for the conditions in lake Okeechobee that Gilio Environmental seeks to provide  to improve Lake Okeechobee. Such improvement would prove valuable to the essential headwater water quality releases to the Caloosahatchee River, increased bass and duck habitats throughout the lake, improved water quality, again throughout the lake. Summed, these improvements in the lake's ecology would increase jobs -- growing, installing, maintaining-- installed plants, increased jobs for guides, restaurants, and hotels/motels.  

Gilio Environmental is exploring methods to efficiently and effectively remove that legacy load by oxidation.

Total phosphorus in St. Lucie West's perimeter lakes

Additional Information

The  QA/QC [quality analysis/ quality control ] where performed by a Florida certified chemical laboratory. START paid for the discharge over weir analysis billing. Water sample collections were made  mostly by SLWSD staff and several by Joseph L. Gilio. Results indicate achievement of the total maximum daily load [TMDL]  for the period of record. 

In comparison to the receiving body of water , the St. Lucie River at between 250-300 ppb TP, this major development of regional impact's discharges improve the water quality of the river.

A similar achievement of reducing Lake Okeechobee's water quality using the methodologies established at St. Lucie West would be a major achievement for the entire Everglades restoration. Reduced total phosphorus levels in the lake's water would mean much less downstream pollution for the Caloosahatchee River and estuary. It would enhance the efficiency of the downstreahe Stormwater Treatment Area [STA's 1,2,3,4,5,6] , C240A, the C-44 and C-43 projects  improving all their water quality efficiencies.

If the lake's total phosphorus level could be reduced to the St. Lucie West levels, Microcystis auruginosa blooms would be significantly reduced and possibly eliminated upon such water quality achievement.

In addition, such lake water improvement would increase the overall health of the lake,its fish and wildlife populations  resulting in higher and better public use and enjoyment.