Water Quality Woes: Lee County providing dumpsters, mayors to discuss red tide cleanup

Reporter: Gina Tomlinson Writer: Derrick Shaw
Published: Updated:

Mayors of Southwest Florida’s coastal communities are teaming up to figure out a solution for red tide cleanup.

The mayors plan to meet Wednesday to discuss a plan of action for cleaning up beaches littered with dead fish.

Fort Myers Beach Mayor Tracey Gore says that going to the beach shouldn’t be an unpleasant experience.

MORE: Is red tide impacting businesses on Fort Myers Beach?

Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello says in order to combat the red tide, they need strength in numbers.

Residents agree and are joining the cleanup efforts.

“Two years ago we talked about it behind the scenes like, ‘Oh my God, this is so terrible’ and we didn’t do anything and this is what we get,” said Scott Safford who owns the Sea Gypsy Inn.

“So now, this time we’re standing up saying this is ridiculous we’re not going to stand for it.”

Water Quality Affecting Air Quality

Dr. Paul kuehner has a walk in clinic on Sanibel. He’s had to tell patients on vacation it’s too dangerous to be at the beach, “it isn’t just affecting people who have chronic pulmonary disease or asthma, it’s affecting all people.”

Red tide blooms hug the coast and algae floats in rivers, like the kind Jerry Green says he has in his Forth Fort Myers canal, “I got a sore throat for like three weeks, and about two weeks, my eyes started watering.”

Doctor Kuehner tells WINK News it’s not healthy to be around red tide for more than a couple hours and, “if you or someone in your family has a history of problems, you shouldn’t be here at all.”

The doctor says if you’re already experiencing respiratory issues, it could lead to heart failure or secondary pulmonary problems, blaming pollution from Lake Okeechobee.

We reached out to state officials about how often the air quality is tested and what the results are in Southwest Florida and are waiting for answers.

Is this the worst red tide SWFL has seen?

When it comes to red tide, people up and down the Southwest Florida coast keep agree this year has been unpleasant.

WINK News visited the Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota to ask one of their scientists where this current bout of red tide ranks in history.

“Its really hard to say whats worse,” said Mote Marine Staff Scientist Dr. Tracy Fanara. “We had the longest bloom in 2004, (200)5, and (200)6. it was 18 months long.”

This current red tide is now going into its ninth month: so what’s causing it?

While Dr. Fanara said red tide in the summer isn’t unheard of, scientists have noticed a seasonal shift from the blooms.

“In the past three years we’ve seen that this bloom season has started later in the fall and has extended further out into the spring and now this year into the summer,” Dr. Fanara said. “Will that be happening as a regular occurrence? We dont know.”

Click here to learn how to download the Mote Marine App.

Dumpsters for dead fish

Lee County has placed dumpsters in key locations where residents can dispose of fish that washed ashore near to their homes and businesses due to red tide:

Residents may also double-bag fish and place in regular household trash receptacles, but residents are advised that the hauler will not be able to make additional collections outside of regularly scheduled collection days.

Lynn Hall Memorial Beach Park

950 Estero Blvd.

Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931

Crescent Beach Family Park

1100 Estero Blvd.

Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931

Bowditch Point Beach Park

50 Estero Blvd.

Fort Myers Beach, FL 33931

Seventh Street Beach Access

Seventh St W.

Boca Grande, FL 33921

Causeway Islands

19931 Sanibel Causeway Road

Sanibel, FL 33957

Bonita Beach access #10

26082 Hickory Blvd.

Bonita Springs, FL 34134

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