toxic algae

In Florida, the Army Corps of Engineers is working to combat a growing environmental menace: blue-green algae. Nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from farms and subdivisions combines with warm summer weather to create massive blooms of algae in rivers and lakes that can be toxic.

Matias J. Ocner / MIAMI HERALD

Could algae, the fish-killing bane of Lake Okeechobee and Florida’s coastal waters, actually become a valuable state product? Think orange juice, except green, slimy and terrible tasting. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and private partners think there is a possibility.

A bloom of toxic algae has forced Mississippi to close 25 beaches along its Gulf Coast. State environmental officials say people can still visit the sandy beaches — but they should avoid any contact with the water.

The blue-green algae "can cause rashes, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting," the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality says. And it warns that exposure can affect pets.

New research just getting underway at Florida Gulf Coast University is exploring a novel approach to possibly someday controlling blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria.

Kirsten Hines

The new executive director of the environmental group Friends of the Everglades is not that impressed with Gov. Ron DeSantis' environmental record thus far. 

Earlier this year, the governor granted $625 million to Everglades restoration and water quality projects as part of a proposed $91.3 billion state budget plan. But according to Alex Gillen, the new director, that's not enough.

"I don't think you should be rewarded for doing kind of what you're supposed to do," he said on Sundial. 

Gillen spoke on the show about environmental concerns across the state. 

NOAA

A summertime Gulf of Mexico dead zone fueled by pollution flowing out of the Mississippi River watershed could be among the largest on record this year.

Miami Herald/Pedro Portal

In the war over water management, U.S. Rep. Brian Mast is tired of being the loser.

In a letter to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers this week, Mast, a Republican whose district stretches from Palm Beach to Fort Pierce, called current lake management a "total disaster." Water managers , he said, too often place greater importance on supplying water to the agricultural industry without considering the damage to Florida's coast when high water needs to be flushed from the lake to protect its aging dike.


Experts: Red Tide Was Among 5 Worst In Florida's History

Feb 27, 2019

Experts say the red tide that plagued Florida's coastline for 15 months is one of the five worst toxic algae events in the state's recorded history. 

TIFFANY TOMPKINS / Bradenton Herald via Miami Herald

Florida’s coastal waters are entirely free of red tide algal blooms, according to the latest round of tests conducted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

The report marks a new low for red tide levels in Florida since the most recent bloom began in October 2017.

The Karenia Brevis algae that causes red tide was only observed in four Southwest Florida water samples over the past week. The samples contained extremely low numbers of algae cells per liter, far below concentrations that would cause a harmful bloom.

Caitie Switaski / WLRN

Governor Ron DeSantis is receiving high praise from some environmental groups for his quick action focused on the Everglades. Last week, the governor called for $2.5 billion for Everglades restoration and combatting red tide and blue-green algae across the state. He also empowered two separate task forces, one on toxic algae and another dedicated to sea-level rise. And he called for the resignation of the entire South Florida Water Management District governing board.

Officials in Florida say dolphins seem to be red tide's latest victims as more than 20 have washed up dead since last week along the state's southwest coast.

USGS via Wikimedia Commons

Environmental groups and state water managers are sparring over land for an Everglades restoration project to help with Florida’s algae blooms, following a controversial vote last week by the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District.

Getty images via Miami Herald

Just before Hurricane Michael made landfall last month, a ferocious red tide that had scoured Florida’s Gulf Coast for a year, depositing countless dead sea turtles, dolphin and other marine life on beaches before spreading to the Atlantic coast, had finally started to wane.

TOM JAMES - WWW.PELICANMEDIA.TV

A South Florida environmental technology company has a plan to fight the state's blue-green algae problems with microscopic plastic beads. 

Green Water Solution is one of four finalists for the George Barley Water Prize, a $10 million award started by the Everglades Foundation to address toxic algae blooms through new technologies. The prize is intended to fund a technology that can be used around the globe to reduce phosphorus contamination in water.

Amy Green / WMFE

Across Florida blooms of toxic algae are threatening beaches and waterways.

Now the algae stands to influence the state’s top political races.

In Cocoa Beach the afternoon is mild, the sky is bright and the surf is breaking. But Tony Sasso can’t stop coughing.

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