Water-Related News

Florida Sea Grant, GCOOS and FWRI collaborate on new red tide messaging poster

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Keeping the public safe during red tide events is at the heart of the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) Harmful Algal Bloom activities. When it comes to knowing when and where red tides are taking place, communication to residents, tourists, and businesses is key.

Recently, Florida Sea Grant and GCOOS, with funding from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI), collaborated on the development of a model to provide Florida’s agencies with a statewide strategic infrastructure to communicate information about red tide.

The model was developed with input from 1,100 Florida residents and natural resources, public health, tourism, media, small business, and hospitality professionals. In addition to a robust collection of these data delivered in nine public reports, the team — Florida Sea Grant’s Dr. Lisa Krimsky and Betty Staugler, and GCOOS Outreach and Education Manager Dr. Chris Simoniello — worked with artist Sara Franklin to create a poster addressing some of the most frequently asked questions and misconceptions that came to light during the study.

Among the priorities identified by participants were the need for consistent messages, guidance on recommended actions to stay safe, and where to go for more information.

“Our goal for the poster was to provide a visually appealing source of science-based information covering priority content that came to light during the study,” said Simoniello. “We want to help people better understand what Florida red tide is, how best to protect themselves and their families, and where to go to find credible information, including alternate activities to help protect the local economy if the beach is not an option.”

In addition to featuring sea life in watercolor details, the poster includes links to resources such as the Red Tide Respiratory Forecast, and the Visit Florida, Florida Department of Health and FWRI’s red tide web pages.

You can also download a high resolution version of the poster to print and use free of charge!

Download the Poster (24x36-inch jpg)

Guidelines for the 2022 sea turtle nesting season

The 2022 Sea Turtle Nesting Season starts on May 1st and runs through October 31st. Below are some guidelines you should follow to make sure this nesting season is a safe one for our marine wildlife.

Guidelines for 2022 Sea Turtle Nesting Season

  • Shut off or shield lights that are visible from the beach. Close drapes or blinds after dark. Use 25 watt yellow-bug lights where exterior lighting is necessary. Avoid using flashlights or fishing lanterns on the beach. Fires are not permitted. Lee County has a Sea Turtle Conservation Code which is enforced. For information regarding lighting, or to report a lighting violation, please call Lee County Division of Environmental Sciences (239) 533-8353.
  • Remove beach litter. Balloons, plastic bags, foam and other non-degradable pollutants cause the deaths of many sea turtles who mistake them for food.
  • Quietly observe a nesting turtle from a distance. Do not shine any lights on or around her — she may abandon her effort to nest. No flash photography. Stay behind the turtle so that she cannot see you.
  • Do not harass a turtle by touching her or prodding her to move. Stay out of the way as she crawls back to the water.
  • Stack or remove beach furniture.
  • Keep pets on a leash, away from sea turtles and their nests.
  • Leave sea turtle nest identification markers in place on the beach.
  • Leave nest sites undisturbed. If you find a hatchling wandering in daylight, place it on moist sand in a dry container, shade it and call Turtle Time, Inc. immediately: (239)-481-5566.
  • To report dead or injured sea turtles, or, if you have accidentally hooked a sea turtle that is small enough to rescue, contact: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission 1-888-404-FWCC, or call Turtle Time, Inc. (239)-481-5566 immediately.

Polk County Dept. of Health issues Health Alert for Lake Crago (by Boat Ramp)

Florida DOH logo

LAKELAND – The Florida Department of Health in Polk County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Crago (by Boat Ramp). This is in response to a water sample taken on 6/16/2022. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Crago (by Boat Ramp).

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Water, where there are algae blooms, is not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit floridahealth.gov's aquatic-toxins page (link opens in a new window).

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov (link opens in a new window). Protecting Florida Together is the state’s joint effort to provide statewide water quality information to prioritize environmental transparency and commitment to action.

What do I do if I see an algal bloom?

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collects and analyzes algal bloom samples. To report a bloom to DEP, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or report online (link opens in a new window).

To report fish kills, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at 1-800-636-0511.

Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately.

Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with blue-green algae contaminated water.

If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Polk County at (863) 578-2146.

SWFWMD scheduling prescribed fires in CHNEP area from July through September

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Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s wildfire emergency in 2017.

That’s why the Southwest Florida Water Management District (District) will be conducting prescribed burns July through September in the following locations:

  • Prairie Shell Creek: 3081 Duncan Road (U.S. Highway 17), Punta Gorda. (Charlotte County)
    Approximately 300 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.
     
  • Deep Creek Preserve: 10797 Peace River Street in Arcadia, east of State Road 769. (DeSoto County)
    Approximately 350 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.
     
  • Edward W. Chance Reserve - Gilley Creek Tract: Gilley Creek is located between State Road 62 and 64, east of County Road 675. (Manatee County)
    Approximately 500 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.
     
  • Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and Myakka River - Schewe Tract: West of North Port, east of the Myakka River, and north and south of Interstate 75. (Sarasota County)
    Approximately 450 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Reducing overgrown plants, which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires.
  • Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants.
  • Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat.
  • Maintaining access for public recreation.

The District conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year.

Click here to see aerial footage from a prescribed fire in the Green Swamp Wilderness Preserve where District land management staff burned 320 acres.

Volunteers needed for “Eyes on Seagrass” monitoring program

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CHARLOTTE COUNTY – The Charlotte County UF/IFAS Extension Service and Coastal & Heartland National Estuary Partnership are seeking volunteers to participate in the Eyes on Seagrass monitoring program to document the health and status of seagrass in upper Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay. The Summer 2022 survey will take place July 11-25.

Participants must form teams of at least three and receive training ahead of their first-time sampling. Sea Grant will provide monitoring equipment, a dive flag, and a cooler for samples. Teams will be responsible for transportation to their assigned sites (via boat, kayak, canoe, or paddleboard) as well as their own water shoes, mask, snorkel, fins and flotation device if preferred.

Summer Training sessions

Mid-County Library
2050 Forrest Nelson Blvd, Port Charlotte, FL 33952
July 7, 2022, 4:00-6:00 p.m.
Registration: https://eos.eventbrite.com

Laishley Marina/Pavilion
120 Laishley Court, Punta Gorda, FL 33950
July 23, 2022, 8:30 a.m.-4:00 p.m.
Registration: https://eosvs.eventbrite.com

The all-day event at Laishley Marina will provide an opportunity for volunteers to receive training, connect with other volunteer team members and launch for sampling. Snacks will be provided.

For information, contact Kate Rose at kate.rose0210@ufl.edu or 941-764-4346; or Jessica Scott-Dunda at JScott-Dunda@chnep.org or 941-575-3374.

Polk County Health officials lift health alert for Lake Hamilton

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Health Alert Has Been Lifted After Recent Sample Results

LAKE HAMILTON – The Florida Department of Health in Polk County has lifted the health alert issued on May 24, 2022 for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Hamilton East (Sample Park). Follow-up water samples taken by the Department of Environmental Protection did not detect algal toxins, indicating the public may resume water-related activities.

It is important that the public exercise caution and good judgement. Blue-green algae blooms can move around or subside and then reappear when conditions are favorable again. Residents and visitors are advised to avoid contact with the water if blooms are observed. The latest sample results can be viewed on ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov. Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center. Call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist.

FEMA Announces Effective Date for New Charlotte County Flood Risk Maps

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CHARLOTTE COUNTY – FEMA has issued the letter of final determination for the effective date of Charlotte County’s new flood risk maps. The new Flood Insurance Study and Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) will become effective on Dec. 15, 2022.

A new flood zone called the Coastal A Zone (CAZ) will be incorporated into these new maps. The CAZ flood zone is also known as the Limits of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA) and will depict the areas where properties may be impacted by wave crests of 1.5-foot- 3-foot during a 1% chance flood event.

Structures built in the CAZ will need elevations and foundations similar to those located in the coastal high hazard area V/VE flood zones. The V/VE flood zone are areas that have impacts from wave crests 3-foot and higher.

FOR FLOOD INSURANCE COMPANIES:

For insurance purposes, the community number and new suffix code for the panels being revised are indicated on the FIRM and must be used for all new policies and renewals starting Dec. 15, 2022. A comparison view of the Preliminary Coastal Risk Map vs. the current flood maps can be found at: Charlotte County FEMA Flood Zones (Preliminary) (arcgis.com).

Many past Letters of Map Change (LOMC, LOMA, LOMR) will be superseded when the new maps become effective so please visit our website to review the Final Summary of Map Actions, www.charlottecountyfl.gov under Flood Information.

New law directs DEP to set up PFAS cleanup rules, as feds issue advisory

Scientists have detected the substance in nearly everyone tested, and the effects aren’t yet fully understood.

Florida is beginning to tackle the cleanup of a family of once-everyday chemical substances about which federal regulators sounded the alarm last week.

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed legislation (HB 1475) that asks the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to immediately begin to adopt statewide rules to clean up perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances. The compounds with a mouthful of a name, commonly shortened to PFAS, were once used in products ranging from firefighting foams to nonstick frying pans. Now, environmental and health studies say they’re far more dangerous than thought as recently as 2016.

Florida’s legislation, filed by Dover Republican Rep. Lawrence McClure, requires DEP to adopt statewide cleanup levels for PFAS in drinking water, groundwater and soil by 2025. Those rules would have to go through the Legislature for ratification.

Although the United States no longer produces PFAS, they were common in the aerospace, medical and construction industries and more dating back to the 1950s. They were also a common substance in firefighting foam. Today, they can be imported in goods such as carpet, paper and packaging, and plastics.

Are humans making toxic algae blooms worse and more frequent? A new study aims to finds out

Researchers will look to sediments for information on past blooms and what they can tell us about today's events.

A new study launching next week aims to answer some frequently asked questions about toxic algae blooms in Florida’s coastal waters: Are they getting worse? And are people the reason why?

Scientists with Eckerd College in St. Petersburg and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will assist their partners from Utrecht University in the Netherlands on the project looking into the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, and other micro-algae.

Red tide blooms can be fatal to manatees, fish and other marine life. Coastal tourism and fishing industries can also come to a crashing halt during events of medium-to-high levels of Karenia brevis being present due to the stench of dead fish washing ashore and the coughing people can experience.

Francesca Sangiorgi, an associate professor in Utrecht's Department of Geosciences, said they will use a pipe to collect sediment samples from the Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor seafloors to document past blooms.

"Layer by layer by layer, they accumulate year after year. And we can, basically by looking and studying the sediment, (read) the history of these harmful algal bloom like we would read a history book," she said.

EPA grants permit for Ocean Era aquaculture demonstration project off of Sarasota County

The EPA approved the permit for the Ocean Era aquaculture demonstration project in federal waters off of Sarasota County on June 8 – the same day another federal agency opened its public comment period on nine potential aquaculture sites in the Gulf of Mexico.

The Environmental Protection Agency had withheld final approval for the Ocean Era project pending clarification of whether discharges of waste generated by the fish would degrade the water.

The project, which would see about 20,000 Almaco jack fish raised in a net pen 45 miles offshore from Sarasota County between Venice and Englewood, requires an EPA permit because the water that flows through the net pen is considered to be “define e,” and so the nutrient levels will need to be monitored.

Governor signs bill putting all soil and water board seats on the ballot days before qualifying

The new law creates last-minute pressure on all board members, even those in the middle of their terms, to qualify.

Florida now has stricter membership qualifications to serve on the boards of the state’s Soil and Water Conservation districts, and only days to qualify thanks to a measure Gov. Ron DeSantis signed this week.

The law (SB 1078) requires candidates for Soil and Water Conservation District boards, a volunteer public office, to either be agriculture producers working or retired after at least 15 years of work or be employed by an agriculture producer. The legislation underwent several iterations during this year’s Regular Session as St. Augustine Republican Sen. Travis Hutson continuously tweaked the bill after receiving significant pushback from interested parties.

The measure took effect immediately when the Republican Governor signed it late Wednesday night as part of a trio of bill signings. Friday marks Florida’s qualifying deadline for the 2022 election, creating last-minute pressure on all board members, even those in the middle of their terms, to qualify.

Hutson’s original draft would have abolished the districts altogether. He said he heard pushback in his district that they were ineffective. But after hearing support for the districts, he amended the measure to limit membership so there would be more involvement from the agricultural community.

The law also explicitly states all board member seats shall be up for election this year before returning to staggered four-year terms.

Lee County DOH issues blue-green algae bloom alert for the Caloosahatchee River-North Shore Park

Florida DOH logo

FORT MYERS – The Florida Department of Health in Lee County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins at the Caloosahatchee River - North Shore Park. This is in response to a water sample taken on June 13th, 2022. The public should exercise caution in and around the Caloosahatchee River - North Shore Park.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Water, where there are algae blooms, is not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit floridahealth.gov's aquatic-toxins page (link opens in a new window).

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov (link opens in a new window). Protecting Florida Together is the state’s joint effort to provide statewide water quality information to prioritize environmental transparency and commitment to action.

What do I do if I see an algal bloom?

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collects and analyzes algal bloom samples. To report a bloom to DEP, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or report online (link opens in a new window).

To report fish kills, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at 1-800-636-0511.

Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately.

Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with blue-green algae contaminated water.

If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Polk County at (863) 578-2146.

Cape Coral sees blue-green algae pop up in multiple canals

Blue-green algae have once again been found in Cape Coral canals.

Connie Rokicak spotted some blue-green algae specks floating in the water behind her home, and she was not happy.

“I’m actually surprised it’s here this early,” Rokicak said.

She says the only time she sees algae is when it gets really bad, as it did during the water crisis in 2018.

“That was really bad; I was even walking down Beach Street the last time it was here, and even then, when you were like a block off the canals you could still smell it,” Rokicak said.

There is no smell yet and this is not the only canal experiencing this, according to John Cassani, Calusa Waterkeeper.

Cape Coral enacts new citywide, year-round, two-day-a-week irrigation rules

Cape Coral logo

The new rules are effective immediately

City Council approved a new year-round two-day irrigation watering schedule that is effective immediately and applies to all Cape Coral residents. The new citywide irrigation watering schedule applies to all Cape Coral properties whether on private well or City water.

Residents will still have the same number of hours for irrigation; however, the new schedule will add more time slots reducing demand by 40 percent. The new schedule will allow the City to better manage watering demand, pressure, and flow, and it will improve water pressure for reclaimed water fire hydrants.

Watering days and times depend on the last number of the home address.

See the schedule below for new days and times:

For addresses ending in 0:        Monday and Thursday, 8 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.
For addresses ending in 1: Monday and Thursday, midnight to 4 a.m.
For addresses ending in 2: Monday and Thursday, 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
For addresses ending in 3: Tuesday and Friday, 8 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.
For addresses ending in 4: Tuesday and Friday, midnight to 4 a.m.
For addresses ending in 5: Tuesday and Friday, 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
For addresses ending in 6: Wednesday and Saturday, 8 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.
For addresses ending in 7: Wednesday and Saturday, midnight to 4 a.m.
For addresses ending in 8: Wednesday and Sunday, 4 a.m. to 8 a.m.
For addresses ending in 9: Thursday and Sunday, 8 p.m. to 11:59 p.m.

Additional watering changes:

  • Watering new lawns and landscaping is allowed during a 30-day establishment period and will be allowed on any day except Friday from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
  • Irrigation of new landscaping that has been in place for 31 to 90 days shall be allowed on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday from 2:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
  • Businesses, properties, or developments up to and including five acres in size with irrigation systems that must irrigate multiple properties with different watering times may water on Thursday and Sunday from midnight to 4:00 a.m.
  • Businesses with watering times between 8 p.m. to 11:59 p.m. may water between midnight and 4:00 a.m. so as not to interfere with normal business operations.

The City will notify residents of this change using several platforms including, but not limited to, social media, electronic message boards, postcards delivered to each residence, our virtual monthly newsletter, our media partners, and email notifications.

*NOTE: The mandatory one-day watering restriction is no longer in effect.

Fort Myers will begin transitioning back to city-sourced water on June 15th

FORT MYERS – The City of Fort Myers has received drinking water since late-January from Lee County in order to satisfy unprecedented demand by an increase in population. This assistance from the county enabled the city to complete two new water wells, fill all water tanks to capacity, rehabilitate three existing wells, and begin planning a full expansion of water infrastructure citywide. At this time, the city is prepared to resume supplying water to our residents. The transition to city-sourced water will take place in the same three phases introduced in January; however, reconnecting to city-sourced water will occur in the reverse order outlined below.

Timeline

Phase Date Duration
Phase 3A and Phase 3B: Wednesday, June 15, 2022 Approximately 3 days.
Phase 1 and Phase 2:
 
Exact date will be announced in a future release.
If DEP allows, expected to begin June 21, 2022.
Approximately 3 days.


For more information including a map, please visit the City of Fort Myers website at the link below.

Polk County Dept. of Health issues blue-green algae Health Caution for Lake Mariam

Florida DOH logo

WINTER HAVEN – The Florida Department of Health in Polk County has issued a Health Caution for the presence of blue-green algae in Lake Mariam (SE Corner). This is in response to a site visit and water sample taken by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on 05/19/2022. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Mariam (SE Corner).

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Water, where there are algae blooms, is not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit floridahealth.gov's aquatic-toxins page (link opens in a new window).

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov (link opens in a new window). Protecting Florida Together is the state’s joint effort to provide statewide water quality information to prioritize environmental transparency and commitment to action.

What do I do if I see an algal bloom?

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collects and analyzes algal bloom samples. To report a bloom to DEP, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or report online (link opens in a new window).

To report fish kills, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at 1-800-636-0511.

Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately.

Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with blue-green algae contaminated water.

If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Polk County at (863) 578-2146.

Polk County Dept. of Health issues blue-green algae Health Caution for Lake Buffum

Florida DOH logo

ALTURAS – The Florida Department of Health in Polk County has issued a Health Caution for the presence of blue-green algae in Lake Buffum - Boat Ramp. This is in response to a site visit and water sample taken by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on 6/6/2022. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Buffum - Boat Ramp

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Water, where there are algae blooms, is not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit floridahealth.gov's aquatic-toxins page (link opens in a new window).

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov (link opens in a new window). Protecting Florida Together is the state’s joint effort to provide statewide water quality information to prioritize environmental transparency and commitment to action.

What do I do if I see an algal bloom?

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collects and analyzes algal bloom samples. To report a bloom to DEP, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or report online (link opens in a new window).

To report fish kills, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at 1-800-636-0511.

Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately.

Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with blue-green algae contaminated water.

If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Polk County at (863) 578-2146.

Fort Myers issuing permits for water mains but can’t promise anything will flow through them

“The bottom line is we let growth get ahead of us.”

Fort Myers officials informed developers last week that while they can obtain permits for new water hookups, there won’t be water flowing for the foreseeable future.

After the Florida Department of Environmental Protection told the city it could no longer issue general permits on water mains, the city explained in a letter it would have to be judicious with water until new wells start producing.

“By certifying General Permit applications for developers or contractors to construct water main extensions to serve new developments, the city or public water system is making a commitment to supply the water necessary to meet the design water demands of the project and that the water treatment plant to which the project will be connected has the capacity necessary to meet the design water demands for the project,” the letter reads.

“The Department of Environmental Protection and the Department of Health are concerned that with the growth in the city and the number of development projects permitted in recent years that the city may not be able to meet the water demand generated by these projects without additional wells.”

Mayor Kevin Anderson said the city must be careful now after years of poor planning.

$12 million construction contract for Phase 2 of Dona Bay Watershed restoration approved

The nutrient being targeted is nitrogen, which is transported through stormwater runoff and feeds algae and red tide

SARASOTA COUNTY – An effort to improve water quality has made some additional progress in Sarasota.

This week the County Board of Commissioners awarded a $12 million construction contract for Phase 2 of the Dona Bay watershed restoration around the Venice inlet area.

The watershed restoration would also help improve oyster beds and reduce algal blooms.

This phase of the project would install one and a half miles of pipe that would connect the south end of the previous Phase 1 project.

The primary objective is to reduce the freshwater input which had increased in the 1960s due to the addition of the Cowpen Slough canal system.

"That in turn affected the coverage of seagrasses and oysters and reduce the nursery capability of the estuary. When we reduce the freshwater input we will also be reducing the nutrient load to the estuary," Paul Seminick with the Sarasota County Public Works Stormwater Division said.

Groundbreaking ceremony for Yellow Fever Creek Preserve set for June 24th

Cape Coral logo

The City of Cape Coral is hosting a groundbreaking ceremony at Yellow Fever Creek Preserve on Friday, June 24, at 10:00 a.m.

The site of the ceremony will be near 2801 Del Prado Blvd N, Cape Coral, FL, 33909. The entrance will be marked with event parking signs and balloons.

For park renderings and updated site plans, visit https://www.capecoral.gov/special_project_plans/parks_and_recreation_go_bond/yellow_fever_creek_preserve.php.

In 2018, Cape Coral voters approved a $60 million expansion of the City's parks and recreation amenities. The approved 15-year general obligation (GO) bond will fund major parks and recreation improvements throughout the city. These improvements include seven new neighborhood parks, the development of three community parks and Yellow Fever Creek Preserve, and improvements to 17 existing parks.

On December 2, 2019, the City Council approved the revised concept plans for the seven neighborhood parks (Resolution 355-19) at a Regular Meeting of the City Council. The public input meetings for the community parks were held in October, November, and December 2019, with revised plans presented to the City Council in 2020.

Note: The most up-to-date site plans can be found on each park page in the GO Bond Projects section at www.capecoral.gov/GObond.

House OKs WRDA water bill that would help reduce Lake Okeechobee releases. Now what?

The U.S. House Wednesday approved a water bill that includes several measures to help clean the polluted St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, whose seagrass loss has sparked an unprecedented manatee die-off.

The Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) includes a "comprehensive roadmap" to end Lake Okeechobee discharges, plus six other measures specific to Treasure Coast waterways. It passed with a 384-37 vote and awaits Senate approval.

If Congress approves WRDA, the Army Corps of Engineers would be required to build more infrastructure to further reduce Lake O discharges that can carry toxic algae, pollutants that feed blooms and damaging freshwater to brackish estuaries.

Even then, achieving zero discharges would take years.

FWC investigating after manatee dies in Chiquita Lock

A manatee has died after getting stuck in the Chiquita Lock in Cape Coral.

A preliminary investigation suggests the manatee got stuck and drowned. And this is not the first time it happened.

The discovery is fueling the city’s fight to remove the Lock for food over wildlife and boating concerns.

The city has been pushing to remove the Lock since 2016. They came close to removing it in 2019 but ran into opposition from the Matlacha Civic Association. In Sept. of 2021, the city filed another request to remove the Lock. The Department of Environmental Protection is reviewing the current permit application.

Governor vetoes controversial Lake O bill SB 2508

Gov. Ron DeSantis on Wednesday vetoed a controversial bill that would have changed the state’s policy for Everglades restoration and that critics had derided as catering to the sugar industry around Lake Okeechobee.

In his veto letter, the governor said “the bill that was ultimately passed by the Legislature is an improvement over what was initially filed,” but that it created “unnecessary and redundant regulatory hurdles” that could compromise the execution of Everglades restoration projects.

Senate Bill 2508 was supported by outgoing Senate President Wilton Simpson, who is now running for agriculture commissioner.

The bill, which was introduced halfway through the regular session, received significant public pushback, and lawmakers watered down some of the language after DeSantis threatened to veto an earlier version of the measure.

NOAA proposes sites for fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico

The EPA is revising the language for a fish farm permit near Venice, but there are other sites that could potentially turn into new fish farms in the Gulf of Mexico.

SARASOTA, Fla. — You have an opportunity to give feedback, encouraged by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), on whether companies can set up aquaculture projects along our coastline.

Last summer, the Hawaii-based company Ocean Era applied to set up a farm off of the coast near Venice. The company used spheres to raise fish in the open ocean which they claim leads to higher quality and more sustainable seafood.

However, some worry that fish farms will fuel red tide blooms.

“The fish farms will add nutrients to our water, so that could potentially impact the health of our waters,” Sarasota City Commissioner Jen Ahearn-Koch said.

Ahearn-Koch said she's concerned because the city is still restoring the bay from the 2018 red tide that had a $300 million impact on the economy.

“Harmful algal blooms are definitely a concern, that we're well aware of living along the central Gulf Coast, here in Florida," NOAA Fisheries spokesperson Andrew Richard said. "The programmatic impact statement will assess the potential impacts both adverse and beneficial aquaculture might have on water quality.”

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is revising the language for a permit for the project near Venice.

In the meantime, you can have a say about farms for fish, seaweed, algae or even shellfish from June 1 to August 1.

To learn more about attending a public meeting, either virtually or in person, visit this page on NOAA's website. It also has a meeting presentation with background information.

Governor vetoes funding for southwest Florida water projects

Governor Ron DeSantis has vetoed more than $3.1 billion in projects around the state.

Many of those projects on the chopping block are located in Southwest Florida.

The governor’s 2022 veto list is 12 pages long and contains $7.5 million in projects that were vetoed from Charlotte to Collier Counties.

One of the biggest projects to come into contact with the governor’s veto axe was the water project linking Fort Myers to Cape Coral.

Mayor Kevin Anderson explained the city is laying pipe from the city’s water plant toward the river’s edge where the City of Cape Coral picks up.

Pipes along McGregor Blvd will carry potable water under the river to Cape Coral.

Fort Myers got funding from the governor; however, Cape Coral’s Caloosahatchee River Crossing Project was denied the $1.7 million it was requesting.

Related: DeSantis vetoes funding for 10 southwest Florida projects »

Polk County DOH issues blue-green algae bloom caution for Lake Hancock, Lake Crago & Lake Mattie

Florida DOH logo

POLK COUNTY – The Florida Department of Health in Polk County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Hancock (South Central), Lake Crago (by Boat Ramp), and Lake Mattie Canal (near Lake Juliana). These alerts are in response to water samples taken on 05/24/2022. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Hancock (South Central), Lake Crago (by Boat Ramp), and Lake Mattie Canal (near Lake Juliana).

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

  • Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
  • Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
  • Keep pets away from the area. Water, where there are algae blooms, is not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
  • Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
  • Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
  • Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.

Is it harmful?

Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.

For additional information on potential health effects of algal blooms, visit floridahealth.gov's aquatic-toxins page (link opens in a new window).

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov (link opens in a new window). Protecting Florida Together is the state’s joint effort to provide statewide water quality information to prioritize environmental transparency and commitment to action.

What do I do if I see an algal bloom?

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collects and analyzes algal bloom samples. To report a bloom to DEP, call the toll-free hotline at 855-305-3903 or report online (link opens in a new window).

To report fish kills, contact the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute at 1-800-636-0511.

Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately.

Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with blue-green algae contaminated water.

If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Polk County at (863) 578-2146.

Florida Fishery Foundation provides oysters on a rope for water filtration

On Saturday, May 21, Florida Fishery Foundation president George Halper gathered with the scouts in Matlacha to collect oyster shells from restaurants like the Lazy Flamingo and Miceli’s in order to help keep local waters clean.

“We drill a hole, and put a rope through them. We tie a knot about every three or four inches, so we have a chain of oysters,” Halper said. “We tie the rope to the docks and lift it just off the bottom. It structured for fish immediately. Because oysters are clean it’s a clean substrate. Baby oysters, called spat, now have something to attach to. In about a year or two, each of these oyster shells will have anywhere between 4 and 40 oysters on them. It just keeps getting bigger and bigger.”

Each live oyster, he said, takes about a year to mature and will filter up to 50 gallons of water per day. In roughly two years, he predicts over 20 million gallons of water per year will be processed through this natural filtration system.

Halper said this system is a better use of the shells than dumping them in a landfill, adding that this provides a wonderful structure for snook, snapper and various other fish to call home.

Charlotte County’s Hayward Canal dredging begins, continues until November

Marine Advisory – Hayward Canal Dredging

CHARLOTTE COUNTY – The Hayward Canal dredging project will begin Monday, June 6 and be completed in November. This project could cause delays in boating traffic through the channel. Boaters using the El Jobean boat ramp and Hayward Canal may experience delays and allow extra time when planning to travel through this area. Boaters are encouraged to choose alternate routes.

The Public Works Department reminds boaters to remain alert at all times and to exercise caution when traveling in the vicinity of dredging zones. For information visit the project's webpage on the Charlotte County website (link below).