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Water Problems In West Palm Beach, Hurricane Season 2021 And Chris Bosh's New Book

The Official List of Names for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season
The Official List of Names for the 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Hundreds of thousands of residents in Palm Beach County are facing a water advisory. Plus, a look at the 2021 hurricane season and former Miami Heat star Chris Bosh is out with a new book.

This post was updated on Wednesday, June 9.

On this Wednesday, June 2, episode of Sundial

Water Problems in West Palm Beach

There's an ongoing water advisory in place in the city of West Palm Beach, and in neighboring communities, as more than 120,000 residents have their water tainted. A water quality test in late May found unsafe levels of a toxin produced by blue green algae in drinking water samples.

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Dr. Poonam Kalkat is the director of public utilities for the city of West Palm Beach. She explained the toxin, known as cylindrospermopsin, likely came from toxic algae runoffs in Lake Okeechobee.

“Surface water, this time of year can have algal growth. As the days become longer, it becomes hot and there hasn’t been that much rain, you can start having algal blooms in different areas. Some of the water that’s being released from Lake Okeechobee has had algal blooms,” Kalkat said.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which manages water runoffs from Lake Okeechobee, disputes the claim that the toxic algae originated from Lake O. They told WLRN environmental reporter Jenny Staletovich that they have not found cylindrospermopsin in their water testing since August 2020. The city of West Palm Beach has not immediately responded to our questions regarding this discrepancy.

The city of West Palm Beach is one of the few cities in the state that uses surface water instead of groundwater for its drinking water supply. The chemicals in the water aren’t dangerous for all residents. It’s advised that infants, children under the age of six, nursing mothers, pregnant women, people with liver disease, the elderly and pets should avoid tap water.

WLRN’s Palm Beach County reporter Wilkine Brutus explained the city has set up several distribution sites where residents can get water bottles, including at Gaines Park in West Palm Beach. The algal blooms impact not just West Palm Beach but also the town of Palm Beach and the town of South Palm Beach.

Palm Beach County has used the Sheriff’s Department aircraft to get water samples up to Tallahassee to be tested rapidly. West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James says if those samples are found to be safe, the water advisory could be lifted as soon as this weekend.

06-02-2021 SUNDIAL SEG A WPB Water Quality.mp3

Hurricane Season 2021

Tuesday, June 1, marked the start of the Atlantic hurricane season and forecasters are projecting another busy year. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says there’s a 60% chance of there being anywhere from 13 to 20 named storms, which would be significantly less than last year’s record breaking 30 named storms over the course of the year. WLRN’s environment reporter Jenny Staletovich explained why this year appears to be a calmer forecast.

“Right now they have what they call Enso Neutral which means we don’t have either an El Niño or La Niña. But they believe later in the season we could have a La Niña, which could lead to us having a busier season,” Staletovich said.

During La Niña events, trade winds are even stronger than normal which will push warmer water towards Asia. With less atmospheric stability, Florida tends to see more hurricanes in the Gulf and the Atlantic. Staletovich spoke with the director of the National Hurricane Center, Ken Graham, who raised concerns about rapidly intensifying storms.

“What makes this so dangerous is the fact that it shrinks the timeline. So if you’re rapidly intensifying, especially last year we saw some of those rapidly intensify close to the coast, think about that from a planning perspective. Or from an emergency manager’s perspective. All of a sudden that nice window you had shrinks down to a couple of days. That’s why we gotta get a handle on this science,” Graham said.

The National Hurricane Center will be working with researchers over the course of the summer to better understand the reasons why storms rapidly intensify. Staletovich explained that climate change is leading to warmer temperatures in the ocean and in the atmosphere, which may be causing the rapidly intensifying storms to increase in number. Ten of last year’s 30 named storms fall into this category.

You can find more details about this year’s forecast and get your own hurricane plan ready here.

06-02-2021 SUNDIAL SEG B 2021 Hurricane Season.mp3

Chris Bosh

Two-time NBA champion and 11-time NBA All Star Chris Bosh has started a new chapter in his life. The future Hall of Famer, and former Miami Heat star, just published “Letters to a Young Athlete,” a book detailing the challenges he faced throughout the course of his life on and off the court.

“I thought the hardest thing in my life was winning a championship,” said Bosh. “Those challenges that I faced on the court, those were the things that prepared me for the things I couldn’t see coming. I couldn’t see not playing the game at such a young age.”

Bosh was sidelined back in 2014 after doctors discovered a blood clot in his leg. Those blood clots travelled to his lungs and he was forced to be hospitalized. The injury kept him from the sport he’d loved since high school and had a huge impact on his mental health.

“It was heartbreaking, it was debilitating. But one of the things that kept me grounded of course was my family. Right around that time my twins were being born and we were welcoming them into the world. So as soon as they came, life changed all the way,” Bosh explained.

Bosh has long been an advocate for supporting players' mental health. He spoke in favor of Naomi Osaka’s decision to withdraw from the French Open after she refused to do interviews with the press and was fined. He argued it’s something that needs to be talked about and be a continuous conversation. Bosh says athletes are often put on a pedestal and seen as invincible, but his experience proves that’s not the case.

06-02-2021 SUNDIAL SEG C Chris Bosh Pt 2.mp3

This post was updated to include comments from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that disputes the existence of the toxic algae in Lake Okeechobee that was found in West Palm Beach's drinking water.

Chris knew he wanted to work in public radio beginning in middle school, as WHYY played in his car rides to and from school in New Jersey. He’s freelanced for All Things Considered and was a desk associate for CBS Radio News in New York City. Most recently, he was producing for Capital Public Radio’s Insight booking guests, conducting research and leading special projects at Sacramento’s NPR affiliate.