Home / Lee County to start algae clean up; will lasting effects impact economy?

Lee County to start algae clean up; will lasting effects impact economy?

Reporter: Taylor Petras
Published: Updated:
Photo: WINK News Drone taken July 31.

Lee County announced that they secured $700,000 through the Department of Environmental Protection for cleaning up toxic blue-green algae.

The money will go towards removing, processing, and disposal of algae from affected Lee County sites, focusing on Cape Coral.

Lee County worked closely with the DEP and county consultants to create an approved work plan for this project. Lee County says the plan includes the following:

  • A health and safety plan to address any physical hazards that may be encountered
  • The equipment to be used and the procedures to be implemented during the algae recovery operations and the transfer, temporary storage, processing and final disposal of the recovered algae
  • The sampling required prior to disposal and will present steps for review of the laboratory data and obtaining approval for disposal.

“It is important to remember that this is a test project,” County Manager Roger Desjarlais said. “It will look very different from efforts such as Hurricane Irma debris pick-up.”

The DEP approved the plan on Wednesday.

Lee County mobilized AECOM, a large construction and engineering firms with experience in environmental cleanup, under a state contract for emergency cleanup deployments.

“They showed up in the street and said ‘can I talk to you I’m from the County and we’re talking about pumping this stuff out,'” said North Fort Myers resident, Roger Barlow.

“I’m really glad to see to jump on it as quick as they are,” Barlow said.

The first step is setting up a treatment facility and they hope to begin treatment as soon as Friday.

County leaders say they’re setting up pumps and the process will begin Friday around the Waterway Estates neighborhood.

Barlow has had the gunk under his dock for a while now, but this good news has him dreaming of clean summer air.

“I’ll be enjoying the backyard a little bit as it’s been I don’t like to sit out here and soak in the Florida sun sign the breeze from the water it’s kind of like sitting over in old pond in the country somewhere,” Barlow said.

Is algae impacting business in SWFL?

It’s not business as usual at the Island Market in Matlacha.

Manager Andy Fischer said images of dead sea life from across Southwest Florida are shedding a negative light on what they catch and sell.

“The first question people ask is how is this affecting our product?” Fischer said.

WINK News reporter Taylor Petras spoke with business owners and officials on how this could affect Southwest Florida’s economy. Watch the full segment below: