It’s one of the biggest fears for water lovers on the Treasure Coast -- the sight of potentially toxic, blue-green algae.
While none has been spotted this summer, water quality monitors strategically scattered throughout the Indian River Lagoon are detecting traces of blue-green algae and showing other concerning results to scientists.
After Hurricane Irma, Ocean Research and Conservation Association CEO, Dr. Edie Widder, said the water quality decreased.
“The blue green algae readings, a few of them went up after the storm,” Widder said.
But that wasn’t the only information that peaked her concern. Local runoff from agricultural areas also made an impact, she says.
“The numbers coming out of Ten Mile Creek are very high, especially of phosphate,” Widder said.
She gets her information about the water quality from monitors called kilroys. There are 25 devices placed in the water at sites between Martin County and Volusia County.
Wednesday night, the kilroys were detecting some blue-green algae at monitoring sites in St. Lucie County at Taylor Creek, Moore’s Creek and Ten Mile Creek.
In Martin County, kilroys were detecting the algae at their locations in the North Fork, C-23 Canal, Palm City Bridge and the Manatee Pocket.
The highest levels were at Ten Mile Creek.
“It’s not good, but it’s not a major bloom either,” Dr. Widder said. Again, none of the algae is prevalent enough to be visible, she said.
The kilroys were initially funded by the state, but that funding is being cut back.
Now, Widder says there is only enough money coming in from the state to operate about eight kilroys.
Martin and St. Lucie counties have pitched in to operate a couple more.
Still, only about half of the kilroys are collecting data.
“We’re just asking for what we got last year so we can maintain what we’ve got out there now.”
The more kilroys that are operating, the better scientists can also detect where pollution is coming from.
As runoff and Lake Okeechobee releases continue, Widder is going to be keeping an eye on the data, and what those factors will do to the water quality.