Water-Related News

SFWMD and FDEP keep careful watch on Lake O algae

South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) and Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) officials are keeping a close watch on Lake Okeechobee as conditions are ripe for harmful algae blooms (HABs).

Cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, are part of the natural ecosystem of all lakes, streams and rivers. These microscopic organisms are believed to be the oldest life forms on the planet. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, 28 species of cyanobacteria have been documented in the Lake Okeechobee Waterway, which includes the Caloosahatchee River, Lake Okeechobee, the St. Lucie Canal and the St. Lucie River.

FDEP monitors and manages blue-green algal blooms all over Florida. In addition, the SFWMD monitors and manages blue-green algal blooms in the district.

Of the 35 sites sampled, eight sites had trace levels of toxins (lower than the level considered safe for drinking water by the EPA), three sites had low levels of microcystin toxins (above the level for drinking water but below the level considered safe for human recreational contact); one site had toxin levels above the level for human recreational contact; the rest had no toxins detected.