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Rep. Brian Mast discusses toxic algal blooms in Lake Okeechobee

Mast: 'Bottom line is this, people should be worried'
Posted at 9:55 AM, May 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-09 12:00:29-04

A South Florida lawmaker is sounding the alarm on what could be a summer of toxic algae in the St. Lucie River.

“Bottom line is this, people should be worried,” U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., told Michael Williams on "To The Point."

Mast represents Florida's 18th district, covering parts of Palm Beach County, as well as Martin and St. Lucie counties.

Recently, Mast visited the Pahokee Marina, where toxic algae was removed.

“We just passed the beginning of May, not even into summer, you’ve seen the most toxic algal bloom ever measured in the history of Lake Okeechobee over 100 times more toxic than what the EPA says humans should come in contact with, that is concerning,” Mast said.

Rep. Brian Mast discusses toxic algal blooms in Lake Okeechobee

Dr. Paul Gray, a scientist at the Florida Audubon Society, said the problem this year is that Lake Okeechobee is already at 14 feet and the Army Corp of Engineers doesn't want it going above 17 feet because of dike concerns.

Irma raised the lake 3 feet in one month so we are one storm away from a really high concerning level where they have to dump," Dr. Gray told Williams. "They don’t have any choice to be environmentally conscious. They have to dump for safety.”

Mast and Gray alluded to projects in the works to create storage for the water, but the projects are taking a while to build.

Mast said he will do everything he can to stop the discharges from going into the St. Lucie River.

Political round table with Mary Anna Mancuso and Brian Crowley

“You are not going to dump the toxic water on us, that is the bottom line. We will do everything physically to stop you,” Mast said.

Mast also called on federal lawmakers to pass a bill to stop toxic algae from being discharged from the lake.

“What we need from the federal level is certainly a bill to pass to the Army Corps of Engineers that says no discharges over this toxic level, 8 parts per billion microcystin," Mast said. "If there is going to be a state of emergency there they are going to use efforts from the federal Stafford Act to go out there and support the clean-up efforts.”

The Army Corps of Engineers says for now, it will not release any water going east.

Closing comments with Mary Anna Mancuso and Brian Crowley

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