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Crews work to remove toxic algae from Pahokee Marina

Cleanup expected to last into next week
Toxic algae cleanup at Pahokee Marina on April 29, 2021
Posted at 4:43 PM, Apr 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-29 17:50:36-04

PAHOKEE, Fla. — The clean-up of the blue-green algae at the Pahokee Marina continued Thursday with crews wearing hazmat suits.

Health alert signs were posted near the marina warning people to stay away from the water.

"The important thing is we get the algae away from here," said Drew Bartlett, executive director of the South Florida Water Management District.

He described the process that workers are performing to safely remove the toxic mess.

"The first phase was let's get the trucks out here as soon as possible and remove the algae and getting it away from people. The second phase, which starts tomorrow, is sucking up algae and separating it, treating the water and putting the water back," Bartlett said.

Michael Breen of Breen Aquatics of Loxahatchee will be part of the phase two cleanup on Friday with a special machine called a Weedoo.

Weedoo workboat used to cleanup algae at Pahokee Marina
A Weedoo workboat will be used to cleanup the toxic algae at the marina.

"This machine was invented by a man in Wellington named John Grimes, and it's a shoreline workboat," Breen said. "We're not only taking up the physical blue-green algae, but we're also sucking up the nutrient load as well."

Nutrient pollution is being blamed for the algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee.

"Our scientists are looking at the water quality data, and we are preparing for more algae blooms on the lake and really doing what we can to prepare for that," Bartlett said.

Drew Bartlett
Drew Bartlett says they are preparing for more algae blooms on Lake Okeechobee.

The bloom in Pahokee has also sparked concern over lake water releases that could carry the algae as far east as Stuart.

Bartlett said his agency is in contact with the Army Corps of Engineers, who control the water releases from the lake.

The cleanup in Pahokee is expected to last into next week.