Blue-Green Algae Task Force to meet in Fort Myers

Members of the public will have the opportunity to voice their concerns for blue-green algae and other water quality issues in Southwest Florida this week.

Gov. Ron DeSantis’ Blue-Green Algae Task Force will hold its second meeting since formation at the Lee County School Board in Fort Myers Monday.

The main topic of discussion will involve the nutrient inputs going into Lake Okeechobee.

Dr. Mike Parsons, who has a Ph.D. in biological oceanography and a member of the governor’s task force, told us the Florida Department of Environmental Protection has been organizing a map of area that release the most nutrients into Lake O.

At the meeting, task force members will look at all the numbers, analyze them and see if there is any way to reduce the releases without harming the agriculture sector.

South Florida Water Management District, FDEP and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services all have ideas about ways to reduce the nutrients. Parsons said the public needs to listen to them tomorrow and learn about their programs to see how effective they would be.

Parsons also said, the water quality in our area is in good shape because we are coming out of dry season. However, going into the rainy season, big storms like the one in Lee County Friday are cause for concern.

“We do have some big bio masses of cyanobacteria that have washed up on Captiva,” Parsons said. “We do have microcystis blue-green algae showing up in Lake Okeechobee and in the river. So we do see symptoms of high nutrient loading. But once rainy season, wet season really kicks in, we will see those nutrient levels rise, and they could rise to levels that are unhealthy. “

We also asked if it is possible for us to see any immediate relief or if we have to wait years for the different reservoirs and bridges on U.S. 41 to be built.

Parson said the solutions will take time, especially because our population in Southwest Florida is expected to rise drastically in the next 10 years. And our already fragile ecosystem could overload.

The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the school board morbuilding.

Reporter:Morgan Rynor
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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