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DEP tests reported algae blooms in Stuart

Posted at 7:05 PM, May 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-21 10:12:08-04

STUART, Fla-- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is testing reported algae blooms along the St. Lucie River.
 
This comes about a week after blue-green algae was discovered along Lake Okeechobee. Test results showed a low level of toxicity.

DEP says it will first test to see if the reported blooms are algae capable of producing toxins, like blue-green algae. If so, it will then determine if it’s toxic.

Either way residents are already concerned.
 
“It’s really very thick, almost like a mat,” said Dale Scaringi.

Scaringi has been seeing some suspicious green stuff his back yard for the last few days. “You have to wonder whats causing it.”
 
Dale lives on the South Fork of the St. Lucie river near Kanner Highway in Stuart.
That’s the location where DEP went to sample reported algae blooms on Thursday.

DEP’s tests will identify the algae and then determine whether it’s toxic.

But Mike Conner already has his suspicions. “I expect it to be tested positive,” said Conner.

It is too soon to say what this is, or what’s causing it.

However, commercial fisherman and activist Mike Conner believes these blooms along the St. Lucie River are directly related to the toxic blue-green algae discovered last week in Lake Okeechobee.

“They should have shut the locks three or four days ago when they found it in Lake Okeechobee,” said Conner.
 
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says there are no immediate plans to change the discharge rates from Lake O, especially after these recent rains. 

A decision that is leaving many here with growing concerns. 

“I worry about fish kills. I worry about losing more sea grass, more oysters,” said Conner. “I worry about tourism, our business. I worry about the perception for folks who came here and won’t come back.”

The DEP says it also sampled a few other reported blooms this week for testing, one of those sites in Palm City. they hope to have some answers next week.