Experts look for solutions as Cape homeowners grow frustrated with algae in canals

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Brooke Shafer/WINK

Finding new ways to clean up a stinky mess.

Some people wonder if chemicals may be the solution to ridding Southwest Florida waterways of the nasty blue-green algae.

Could using chemicals only make a big problem even worse?

WINK News spoke to an expert who said it’s possible to try things like a pool net to skim the top of it, but you can’t just dispose of the toxic waste anywhere. Those interested should reach out to the city or county.

For people living near this festering mess, their frustrations are growing almost as quickly as the algae.

Just last week, the Kreise Family, of North Fort Myers, packed their bags and headed to the beach. They said the stench of festering algae was too much for them.

“And it’s attracting flies,” said North Fort Myers resident Ed Kreise in a previous interview. “Fish are dying.”

Cape Coral resident Peter Formica said Tuesday he was tired of looking at the algae on his canal, and used a pool net to fish some of it out.

“I can see why they want action, and I don’t think it should be sitting there,” said Mike Parsons, a marine science professor at Florida Gulf Coast University.

Parsons is an expert on the toxic algae.

“It’s really an issue of being gentle enough to remove the biomass without releasing the toxins and nutrients,” Parsons said.

WINK News asked if there are solutions or chemical options to get rid of the growing mess.

“With the algae there are chemical solutions although I wouldn’t recommend them,” Parsons said.

“When you break apart the cells, you’re going to release the toxin … basically you’re going to release the nutrients back into the water,” Parsons said. “So you’re not really removing the problem, you’re just kind of shifting it.”

Instead, Parsons suggests technologies like suction or vacuuming systems to filter out the toxic cells, but even that is proving to be a difficult option.

“What kind of technology or removal mechanism is there for a canal-sized event? And that’s where it gets tricky,” Parsons said. “You can’t just bring in a big ship with booms and move all the material out.”

Another tricky part of removing the algae is a lot of it is backed up into the canals.

Experts say it’s a bit of a maze to maneuver, and homeowners may have to wait for the algae to dissipate on its own.

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