Lake O water releases to be reduced to prevent algal blooms

Water quality experts fear storms Southwest Florida is experiencing could lead to blue-green algae flooding local canals. Crews are working to prevent April showers from bringing in the rotten algae.

The state’s U.S. Army Corps of Engineers plans to reduce water releases from Lake Okeechobee Saturday in hopes it will prevent another massive algal bloom in Southwest Florida.

“Last year we had a problem that the water moved into canals,” said Mike Parsons, FGCU water school professor of marine science. “And then you got the blooms in the stagnant water of the canals.”

These are algal blooms blamed on water releases from the lake as well as runoff. With the season soon to transition from dry to wet, experts like Parsons fear more rain could contribute to the bigger bloom.

“When the rain comes, it will basically cause runoff,” Parsons said. “And that will bring nutrients into our local waters and act as a fertilizer for the algae.”

We reported blue-green algae in the Caloosahatchee River near Fort Denaud earlier this week. Neighbors were shocked to find the green gunk scattered along some of the banks and under docks. It acts as a reminder of last year’s water quality crisis here in Southwest Florida.

“It seemed to appear just overnight,” Becky Nichols said. “Friends of ours were out on the dock enjoying the beautiful evening and took photos from the dock of our building, and it was not there. So to wake up and find it just that color is unreal.”

The army corps of engineers continues to monitor levels at the lake to work toward prevention of blooms in our area.

Parsons said even with the rain, it’s hard to predict the next bloom.

“We have changing conditions, as we transition from dry season to wet season,” Parsons said. “So we will have to keep an eye on how the algae will respond.”

Reporter:Brea Hollingsworth
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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