Conditions are ripe for blue-green algae to reemerge

Reporter: Anika Henanger
Published: Updated:

Little specks of algae have been showing up at the Davis Boat Ramp in Fort Myers Shores. While at a distance, the water looks clear, when a person comes closer the specks of green algae come into view.

As Southwest Florida moves towards the summer months, people are worried that we will see a lot more than specks, in places beyond Davis Boat Ramp.

“The last couple years after that really bad episode with the blue-green algae, everything’s been different,” said Dan Anderson, who lives in Fort Myers Shores.

The canal off of the Davis Boat Ramp is practically in Anderson’s front yard. He has seen it at its best when fishing is great. But, Anderson has also seen it at its worst, when it was smothered with blue-green algae.

Traces that are close to the description county and state tests give to the confirmed algae spots, which include Centennial Park, Alva, the Franklin Locks and the Davis Boat Ramp in the last month.

“Those blooms tend to occur in standing water and warm temperatures and in places where there’s a surplus of nutrients,” said Dr. Don Duke, Florida Gulf Coast University professor at the Water School.

Researchers, like Dr. Duke, said some algae is normal in waterways, in the environment, all over the world. But as it heats up, blooms develop and grow.

Brittany Van Voorhees, WINK News meteorologist, said our conditions are ripe for development.

“Warmer water allows for unless mixing to occur,” Voorhees said, “which prevents those blooms from breaking up once they’re already in our water.”

There is little that can be done to change it immediately.

“It’s unlikely that anything we do right now will help us this year,” Dr. Duke said. “This is a long-term problem. It’s been in the making for many decades since we started substantially modifying our water heater is probably 80-years-ago.”

One reason Lee County is already looking at the ways to prevent the gunk from growing at all is that the algae in the last couple of years have been terrible.

Lee County is working on several projects to mitigate the reemergence of an environmental crisis. These include a fertilizer ordinance, pet waste campaign, looking at the health of creeks and keeping clean up companies on hand if a significant bloom strikes again.

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