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Health alert sign posted at Lake Worth Beach park because of algae concerns

Algae spotted in C-51 canal
Health alert signed posted at Spillway Park in Lake Worth Beach on May 14, 2021.
Posted at 2:05 PM, May 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-14 18:14:49-04

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — In past years, algae has mostly been a problem that has impacted Martin County and other parts of the Treasure Coast.

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However, residents in Palm Beach County are seeing the green slime show up in some waterways with summer still about a month away.

Algae was spotted Friday in the C-51 canal near Summit Boulevard north of the town of Lake Clark Shores.

Also, a "health alert" sign was posted at Spillway Park in Lake Worth Beach saying that blue-green algae are in these waters.

WPTV has reached out to the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County to see if they can confirm if there is toxic algae in the waterway.

RELATED: What's the difference between algae and toxic algae?

The algae was showing up in a canal beyond the backyard of resident James Sylvester, who lives on Lake Clarke.

"The other day there was more than this," Sylvester said.

He said the bloom first appeared a couple of weeks ago and was more noticeable in front of his home.

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. They are testing samples of the water and the results should be back by Monday.

Concerns over the lake water intensified weeks ago when a large algae bloom impacted the Pahokee Marina.

Reinaldo Diaz is with the Lake Worth Waterkeeper, a nonprofit group dedicated to protecting these waters.

Reinaldo Diaz
Reinaldo Diaz says the algae is a major concern for Palm Beach County.

When it comes to algae, he said these waterways can be impacted as much as the Treasure Coast.

"The Lake Worth watershed covers pretty much all of Palm Beach County. It's a complex watershed, but what we know is when it comes to major cyanobacteria bloom the common denominator is its Lake Okeechobee water," Diaz said.

All of this makes Sylvester worry about how bad it could get.

"Oh, yeah it'll be worse by summer," Sylvester said.

Harmful algal blooms happen when they grow out of control while producing toxins. This can be fueled by warm water and increased nutrients.

Microcystins are toxins that can form in blue-green algae.

"This summer is looking to be what we call another 'lost summer,'" Diaz said.

The Army Corps of Engineers has been feeling political pressure to hold off on water releases, which help control lake levels but can also lead to algae blooms in waterways.

U.S. Rep. Brian Mast, R-Florida urged the head of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in a Friday letter to visit communities impacted by harmful water releases from Lake Okeechobee.