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Potentially toxic algae forms near Pahokee City Marina

Florida Oceanographic Society says blooms are 'unprecedented and very concerning'
Toxic algae at the Pahokee Marina, according to the Florida Oceanographic Society, on April 22, 2021.jpg
Posted at 2:30 PM, Apr 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-23 16:15:33-04

PAHOKEE, Fla. — Potentially toxic algae has developed near the Pahokee City Marina, according to the Florida Oceanographic Society.

The environmental organization posted on Facebook Thursday that "toxic cyanobacteria is building up in Pahokee!"

Toxic cyanobacteria is building up in Pahokee! These pictures that Paul Gray shared with us today are completely...

Posted by Florida Oceanographic Society on Thursday, April 22, 2021

The images show greenish water surrounding boats and docks, and also washing up onshore.

The Florida Oceanographic Society said the pictures "remind us of the nightmarish Toxic Summer of 2016 in our local waterways."

The organization added that seeing "blooms of microcystis this early in the season is unprecedented and very concerning for our upcoming wet season."

Scientists said toxic algae blooms are fueled by fresh water, heat, and nutrients from farmlands and fertilizers.

The Army Corps of Engineers is not currently releasing any water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie Estuary, but the agency is monitoring the lake level closely ahead of our rainy season.

Officials said algae blooms play a role in their decision over whether to discharge water from the lake into the river.

U.S Rep. Brian Mast has been trying to ban the Army Corps of Engineers from releasing algae blooms into the St. Lucie Estuary when they test for toxin levels above the health advisory limit.

In a written statement to WPTV, Rep. Mast wrote:

"For decades, the Army Corps of Engineers has poisoned our community with water laden with algal blooms far more toxic than the EPA considers safe for human contact. If the Corps were discharging right now, they'd be poisoning us again. No Floridian should tolerate being poisoned by their government. The Corps has determined that discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the St. Lucie [River] are unnecessary for flood control and that eliminating these discharges can be beneficial to water supply, the environment and more. They must not settle for incremental progress but rather should take the bold action needed to protect Floridians and stop government-sanctioned poisoning."

Test results still must be completed on the water at the Pahokee City Marina to determine if the algae is indeed toxic.