Concerned SWFL residents heading to DC to show lawmakers algae samples

On Sunday, the South Florida Clean Water Movement came out to protest the Lake Okeechobee discharges that have been flowing into the Franklin Locks in Alva.

“What we’re going to do with these samples is we’re going to take them personally to Washington D.C. on July 25 and give these people the actual truth of what’s going on here,” said John Heim, with the South Florida Clean Water Movement.

Heim is leading the charge for change.

For almost a month, algae blooms have invaded the Caloosahatchee River. So Heim and many others are taking water samples to lawmakers to show them just how bad the problem really is.

“We’re talking toxic levels that are over 500 times the threshold for human being activity,” Heim said.

Biologist and Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani says this algae isn’t going away anytime soon. And the algae blooms are on the rise.

“This is overwhelmingly a systemic failure by the state to address nutrient pollution. We used to see it once or twice a decade. Now in the last 15 years, I’ve seen at least five or six significant blooms in this system,” Cassani said.

That’s why people like Dan Martin are planning on driving hours to plead for change soon before things get even worse.

“It’s been a real tragedy for the fish breeding in that area. It’s affecting commercial and charter fishing. It’s affecting people,” Martin said.

“We’re not representatives of any elected seat. What we are is concerned citizens and we’re going to take it to DC. After that, we’ll be taking it to the state capital,” Heim added.

Scientists say the Lake O releases are partly to blame for this year’s significant algae bloom. They add that improperly treated runoff water is also to blame.