NewsProtecting Paradise


Algae in Palm Beach County getting worse, residents say

Unclear if algae is toxic
Algae on C-51 canal near town of Lake Clarke Shores on May 17, 2021
Posted at 2:04 PM, May 17, 2021

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Residents along the C-51 canal and Lake Clarke say algae in the water became more of a problem this past weekend.

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New video Monday showed algae on the east and west sides of the C-51 canal near Lake Clarke Shores.

Homeowners told WPTV Friday that the bloom first appeared a couple of weeks ago and was more noticeable in front of his home.

"It was horrible. I couldn't even see black water. It was all green. When boats went by you could see it rippling off the boats," said James Sylvester, who lives on a canal in unincorporated Palm Beach County.

He said the algae is getting worse.

"Yesterday, it was all green everywhere," Sylvester said.

He said this weekend the algae suddenly starting spreading, coming in from the C-51 canal and in the back of his home.

"I took my jet skis out [of the water], and put them in the garage. We're not using them until this is cleared up," Sylvester said. "There's people out there skiing in it. There's people out there water skiing and swimming in it," Sylvester said.

Residents have suspicions that the algae may be coming from water releases from Lake Okeechobee in an effort to control the lake’s water level.

However, the South Florida Water Management District insists there have been no water releases from Lake Okeechobee into the C-51 canal and the Lake Worth Lagoon.

Further east, down at the spillway to the Intracoastal Waterway, there are signs posted warning of possible algae in the water.

Officials with the SFWMD tested samples of the water for toxicity, but the results are still not available yet.

There has been mounting political pressure to halt the freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River, which has impacted the Treasure Coast for years.

The Army Corps of Engineers is currently working on strengthening the Herbert Hoover Dike and there are plans for a reservoir south of the lake to limit water releases in the future.

In the meantime, residents like Sylvester worry about the algae this summer.

"[It] makes me afraid for my kids to play in here like I used to when I was a kid," Sylvester said.