Southeast
Max Chesnes / TCPalm

FL - Weekend storm dumped this much polluted rainfall runoff into the St. Lucie River

As this weekend's tropical disturbance swept past the Treasure Coast, the rainfall runoff that flowed into the St. Lucie River for nearly nine hours Saturday averaged 180 million gallons daily.

As this weekend's tropical disturbance swept past the Treasure Coast, the rainfall runoff that flowed into the St. Lucie River for nearly nine hours Saturday averaged 180 million gallons daily.

Aerial images posted to social media Monday afternoon showed plumes of murky water flowing out of the St. Lucie Inlet into the Atlantic Ocean. Time will tell whether the river was polluted with toxic algae or contaminants such as nitrogen and phosphorus, mostly from fertilizer, that can feed algal blooms.

The Army Corps of Engineers opened the St. Lucie Lock and Dam gates at 11:30 a.m. and closed them at 8:15 p.m. to lower the C-44 Canal's water level, which was rising about 1.2 inches per hour, according to spokesperson Erica Skolte.

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The 26-mile canal connects Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie River, but none of the discharged water came from the lake, only western Martin County.

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