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State Dept. of Environmental Protection to help control blue-green algae as water from Lake O flows our way

We’re going to be keeping an eye on our water quality in the next couple of days, as water is now flowing from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River.

Now that discharges from Lake Okeechobee are headed our way, “We’re still disappointed that late in the season, we’re seeing discharges now when we don’t want to see them,” said Noah Valenstein, secretary for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The Department is gearing up to help control blue-green algae if needed.

“We’ve been investing about $10 million a year to test out various types of innovative technologies to help us out,” Valenstein said.

“It’s a relatively simple chemical,” explained Chief Science Officer Dr. Tom Frazer. “It’s based on peroxide and the beauty of that part of the technology is what when it breaks down, it breaks down into the water and oxygen, and so its lifetime in the water is relatively short, so we feel like it has very potential for environmental impact.”

We’ve actually seen something similar used in Southwest Florida before. Cape Coral contracted with SOLitude Lake Management to use a peroxide-based algaecide to clean up its own canals.

“I would say in this section, and this is the Highlander Canal South, probably 90% control of the blue-green algae and the nice thing was we saw it very rapidly,” said SOLitude Lake Management Regional Director for South Florida Bill Kurth.

In the event we end up with more widespread blue-green algae problems because of the releases, “our main focus and business is to create healthy and clean lakes for our lake management customers, but in a situation like this, yeah, we would love to be able to help out in our local community,” Kurth said.

We don’t quite know when the Army Corps will stop discharges from Lake Okeechobee, but they hope to cut back or even stop releases within a month or so.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
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