St. Lucie County, Florida, is known for its beautiful and diverse waterways, which play a significant role in the county’s geography, recreation, and economy.

But alongside the recreational and environmental benefits comes its own set of dangers. From toxic algae blooms to strong currents and shifting sands, these Port St. Lucie waterways have risks that can turn your day of fun into a nightmare.

port st lucie waterways

Major waterways and their dangers

St. Lucie River

A major waterway that runs through the county with its North Fork providing a natural boundary for several communities, the St. Lucie River is popular for boating, fishing, and water sports.

  • Pollution: Historically, the river has faced challenges with water quality due to agricultural runoff and discharges from Lake Okeechobee, leading to algae blooms and widespread fish death.
  • Boating accidents: High traffic, especially during peak seasons, increases the risk of collisions and other boating-related incidents.
BREAKING: Health risk in St. Lucie Canal and River

The Florida Department of Health has issued a health alert due to dangerous concentrations of the toxin microcystin in the St. Lucie Canal and River, posing risks to people, pets, and wildlife.

The toxin, stemming from cyanobacteria or “blue-green algae” in Lake Okeechobee, threatens local waterways and has historically caused significant ecological damage during discharge periods. The discharges significantly affect the estuary’s salinity, impacting marine life and facilitating algae growth by reducing the salinity levels necessary to keep the freshwater organisms in check.

Indian River Lagoon

Part of the larger Indian River Lagoon system, this estuary runs along the eastern coast of the county. It is known for its rich biodiversity, including various fish, birds, and marine mammals.

  • Algal blooms: Similar to the St. Lucie River, the lagoon is susceptible to harmful algal blooms, which can affect water quality and marine life.
  • Shallow waters: Inexperienced boaters may run aground in shallower areas, posing risks to both the vessel and the lagoon’s ecosystem.

Savannas Preserve State Park

While not a singular waterway, this park contains several freshwater marshes and lakes that are part of the larger Savannas basin, offering opportunities for canoeing, kayaking, and wildlife observation.

  • Wildlife encounters: The park’s freshwater marshes are home to alligators and snakes, which can be a danger to unwary visitors.
  • Flooding: During the rainy season, areas of the park may flood, making navigation difficult and potentially stranding visitors.

Fort Pierce Inlet

Connecting the Indian River Lagoon to the Atlantic Ocean, the Fort Pierce Inlet is vital for boating access to the ocean and is a hub for fishing and water recreation.

  • Strong currents: The inlet can experience strong tidal currents, making it challenging for boaters, especially those unfamiliar with the area.
  • Shifting sands: The seabed near the inlet can shift, creating sandbars that pose hazards to navigation.

Intracoastal Waterway

This navigable route runs along the east coast of the United States, including through St. Lucie County, providing a protected channel for boating away from the Atlantic Ocean’s direct influence.

  • Traffic congestion: The waterway can become crowded with recreational and commercial vessels, increasing the risk of accidents.
  • Manatee zones: Parts of the Intracoastal Waterway are designated as manatee protection zones, where boaters must slow down to avoid injuring these endangered animals. Ignoring these regulations can endanger both manatees and boaters.

Stay safe out there, and know we’re here to help

A boating accident lawyer with Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath can provide invaluable support to individuals injured in boating accidents in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Whether the incident was due to negligence, a violation of boating regulations, or equipment failure, our skilled boating accident lawyers can investigate the incident, gather necessary evidence, and advocate for your rightful compensation. This includes covering medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages incurred.

We aim to ensure you receive the justice and financial support needed to aid in the recovery process. Call (561) 655-1990 today.