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New technology fighting algae issues at Pahokee Marina

Algae bloom prompts new health alert
Pahokee Marina on Sept. 13, 2021 after blue-green algae alert
Posted at 11:08 AM, Sep 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-13 18:20:24-04

PAHOKEE, Fla. — Water quality problems continue to be an issue at the Pahokee Marina and Lake Okeechobee.

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A new health alert was issued Monday by the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County after the presence of toxic blue-green algae was detected in the lake at the marina boat ramp.

Health officials said the alert was prompted by water samples taken on Sept. 7.

The public is urged to exercise caution in and around the area, but drinking water is not affected.

Blue-green algae sign at the Pahokee Marina on Sept. 13, 2021
A sign was posted at the Pahokee Marina on Sept. 13, 2021, warning visitors that blue-green algae may be present.

Machines were installed last week by a company working with Florida Gulf Coast University that is injecting nanobubbles of oxygen into the water.

"A company called Moleaer installed four nanogenerators that treat and mitigate possible algae blooms here," said Pahokee City Manager Greg Thompson.

Officials hope it will put a stop to the algae blooms.

Nanogenerators at Pahokee Marina
Four nanogenerators at the Pahokee Marina are working to mitigate algae problems.

"It generates bubbles that are so small they won't float to the top. They stay in solution, and instead of treating it with chemicals we can treat it naturally with those bubbles," Thompson said. "FGCU has sponsored it, and we're looking forward to seeing what outcomes we can get."

Floating pumps are also moving water through the marina, preventing it from becoming stagnant.

Thompson said the pumps appear to keep water flowing in and back out to the lake where there is still blue-green algae.

Pahokee City Manager Greg Thompson speaks about health alert issued for marina on Sept. 13, 2021
Pahokee City Manager Greg Thompson speaks about the health alert issued for the city's marina on Sept. 13, 2021.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water
  • Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms

MORE: People living on boats have to leave Pahokee Marina

The Pahokee Marina has been impacted more than once this year by toxic algae.

The South Florida Water Management District worked in April to clean up a large algae bloom that forced the closure of the marina.

Currently, there are no large clumps of algae, like what was seen last spring.

"All we can do is keep (the algae) from growing within our marina, and the circulators help that because they bring in freshwater," Thompson said.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collects and analyzes algae bloom samples. To report a bloom to the DEP, call the 855-305-3903 or report it online.