STUART, Fla.-- On Tuesday, officials with Martin County quickly arranged a meeting at the emergency operations center to discuss the growing problems associated with the blue-green algae bloom.
County administrator, Taryn Kryzda, led the event.
She stated that the county extended its emergency declaration, and hopes the governor will entice the president to also declare a state of emergency.
"We're doing everything we possibly can to make sure all the elected officials are helping us get any help we need," Kryzda said.
Deb Drum, the county's ecosystem restoration manager, also spoke during the meeting.
"It's toxic in a very concerning level," she said of algae found near Central Marine in Stuart.
She added, "There's no safe blue-green algae bloom. There's no part of it that's safe. The public really needs to stay away from it."
Drum said it's not clear what the short and long term health effects will be as a result of coming in contact with the algae.
"This is an unprecedented event in our community and so we need to proceed carefully," Drum added.
Those who do feel ill after coming in contact with it are told to call Poison Control and then visit your doctor.
During Tuesday's meeting, county officials also announced that Martin County staff members are taking their own water samples to be tested for toxicity levels.
"Data related to toxic algae blooms is very hard to keep up to date because the situation with toxic algae can change so rapidly. For that reason, you can't always rely on the latest test results to give you the best information," Drum said.
Staff members are also requesting air samples to be taken to determine the effects the algae may have on residents' respiratory systems.
The Department of Environmental Protection is the lead agency on investigating the spreading algae problem.
The agency released this response to our coverage on Tuesday:
Since May 13, 2016, when the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) first observed an algal bloom on Lake Okeechobee during their routine sampling, DEP and the SFWMD have regularly responded to and sampled observed and reported algal blooms on Lake Okeechobee, in the St. Lucie River and Estuary and the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary.
DEP and Florida’s water management districts frequently monitor Florida’s water quality, and routinely collect algal bloom samples as soon as they are observed as part of this effort. In addition, staff can be deployed to take additional samples in response to reported blooms – whether from a citizen, other response team agencies or other sources.
Residents statewide now have the ability to easily report information to the department 24 hours a day, 7 days a week when observing algal blooms. Information can be reported online through an electronic form at www.reportalgalbloom.com, as well as call in reports to a new toll-free number at 1-855-305-3903.