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Lake Okeechobee Algae Bloom grows to more than 200 square mile

Posted at 7:15 PM, Jul 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-08 19:15:35-04

The blue-green algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee is booming. Friday, the South Florida Water Management District confirmed the algae now measures more than 200 square miles.

Outrage over the algae crisis led to a rally in Jupiter Friday evening.

Around 75 environmentalists, business owners, politicians and concerned citizens gathered to chant, hold signs, and listen to several special speakers talk about the issues.

"It has to stop," said Amy Lane, who organized the event. "We're poisoning our population. We're killing our economy. We've completely destroyed the environment."

Engineers at the South Florida Water Management District say they're doing what they can to help.

"We're  looking at ways to store the water on private properties, on public properties," said Randy Smith, spokesman for SFWMD. "In an effort to keep it from either reaching Lake Okeechobee or into the St. Lucie Estuary."

Smith says Governor Rick Scott's emergency declaration allows water engineers to cut off water that would usually flow into the St. Lucie River at three key spots.

2.2 billion gallons of water is being held at FPL's cooling pond north of the St. Lucie River. Another couple of billion gallons are being held on former citrus groves. The water management district is also holding 20 billion gallons of water in Lake Kissimmee that would usually flow south into Lake Okeechobee, which cuts down Lake Okeechobee's water levels and in turn reduces how much is discharges.

"It is one of many things that are being done to provide some relief for this issue," Smith said. "Ultimately the long term is going to be finding a way to stop the nutrients from coming into the freshwater from the very source.
       
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