Experts say public awareness is critical at water quality summit

Published: June 24, 2019 4:56 PM EDT
Updated: June 25, 2019 12:06 AM EDT

Experts gathered at a Florida water quality summit to speak about harmful blue-green algal blooms in our waterways regarding health hazards and other dangers the green muck poses in our area.

Scientists who spoke at the Calusa Waterkeeper town hall said public awareness is the most critical aspect for Southwest Florida’s water quality issues Monday.

“We’ve seen algae already this year,” boat captain John Cook said. “We’ve seen algae at the Franklin Lock, at the marina.”

Documentary “Toxic Puzzle” was shown at the summit. It takes a closer look at the science behind possible health risks of toxic algae.

Water experts on the summit’s panel said they hope these events inspire more advocates to help demand the government takes further action against algae

“We’re at this point where were really learning a lot in a short amount of time and there’s still a lot of science to be done.”

Summit addresses the dangers of harmful algal blooms

Water quality activists said if your health is at risk, you should know about it.

Water quality can be puzzling. Experts featured in “Toxic Puzzle” headed a panel discussion Monday evening.

“Well when they made the film, they invited me,” said Dr. Larry Brand, a panel expert and algal ecologist. “They came to interview me for that film, yes.”

“We’re calling it, ‘Public Health Alert Florida Water Summit,'” said K.C. Schulberg, an executive director at the Calusa Waterkeeper.

Those who attend the event got to learn about possible health risks and what people can do to combat the water quality crisis in Florida.

“People are thirsty and hungry for information on the health risks associated with harmful algal blooms,” said John Cassani, a Calusa Waterkeeper and panel moderator.

“The Cyanobacteria produce toxins that are, some of them are very acute toxins and are very poisonous and kill animals,” said Dr. Walter Bradley, a panel expert and neurologist.

With activities like the summit, the goal is to keep the public aware of what risks lie below the surface of the water.

“We’re finding is much more prevalent than we thought,” Schulberg said. “We’re exploring that and we’re getting back to that issue now with two big town halls and some other activities over the summer.”