Gov. Rick Scott declares state of emergency due to algal blooms

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency Monday for the algae blooms that are causing concern among residents in Southwest Florida.

The order will cover several areas, including Glades, Hendry and Lee counties, according to the governor’s office.

“As Governor, it is my duty to protect Floridians, no matter what it takes,” the governor said in a statement. “Today, our state is once again facing a crisis from water releases controlled by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This has prompted me to issue an emergency declaration, so our state agencies can do everything in their power to minimize the harmful impacts these releases are having on our communities.”

Scott saw the algal blooms plaguing the coast of Southwest Florida while aboard a boat on the Caloosahatchee River. He placed much of the blame on the federal government.

“I’m very frustrated,” Scott said. “I’ve been governor for seven-and-a-half years, and finally last week with the Trump administration making the commitment to get the dike fixed, it’s really the first time the federal government’s shown up to be a real partner.”

Southwest Florida leaders called on Scott to declare a state of emergency similar to what he did in 2016.

Last month, Scott visited Southwest Florida where he was briefed on the algae and water releases from Lake Okeechobee.

The agal blooms are concerning for many Southwest Florida residents and visitors alike.

“It smells to me like raw sewage,” said Cape Coral resident Barney Brenner.

Brenner said he’s pleased the state of emergency has been declared and hopes it help to move the process along.

Others, like North Fort Myers resident Ed Kreise want more.

“Declared a state of emergency? How about come up with a plan and do something about this? Help the residents that pay their taxes,” Kreise said. “That would be a solution.”

Kreise said the algae “is the worst I’ve ever seen it.”

WINK News reporter Brooke Shafer spoke with residents concerned about the algae. Watch the full segment below:

Community leaders hoped Monday’s tour will prompt Scott to move forward with issuing a state of emergency.

“Fortunately the releases have slowed significantly,” said State Representative Dane Eagle. “The effect is those algae blooms we’re seeing. This state of emergency that we requested from the Governor, we’re hoping would help us with some funding in the immediate future if we need it.”

Gov. Scott issued an executive order for the declaration of a state of emergency. View it in its entirety below:

Releases suspended from Lake Okeechobee

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers suspended releases from Lake Okeechobee to the west coast of Florida.

John Cassani, a Calusa waterkeeper, said he’s worried this could make the alage worse.

“Bacteria like calm water,” Cassani said. “They don’t like that vertical mix with the flow. So it might actually, unfortunately, increase the growth of the bloom in the fresh water.”

WINK News reporter Taylor Petras spoke with a water activist about his concerns with the latest developments from the Army Coprs. Watch the full segment below:

MORE: Army Corps of Engineers to suspend Lake O water releases Monday

Reporter:Brooke Shafer
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