Experts say it is only a matter of time before blue-green algae comes creeping back into our waterways. On Monday, the Calusa Waterkeeper is holding its second summit of the summer to focus on the public health aspect.
For Tom Hafer, the height of the water crisis last year remains on his mind.
“Friends would come down and visit us in Florida and we’d drive down in the canals and it was just the smell was so bad,” Hafer said. “It’s just kind of hard to sell paradise when that was what you remember most.”
But it was not just the looks or the smell that concerned him. Hafer said seniors living near canals had breathing related problems, including asthma. Even though conditions look better than last year at this time, he believes it is only a matter of time before it comes back.
“Anything that’s a crisis like that,” Hafer said, “is going to come back if you ignore it.”
Experts agree with Hafer and some have voiced their opinion in a new documentary, Troubled Waters.
The Calusa Waterkeeper is premiering the documentary, which centers around the water crisis in Southwest Florida. The movie discusses the public health risks, with interviews from doctors and experts, along with patients suffering from conditions they said are tied to harmful algal blooms.
Among those attending the summit are the doctors and experts interviewed in the documentary. The summit is open to the public and there will be an hour-long question and answer session, after the 40 minute film.
K.C. Schulberg, the executive director of the Calusa Waterkeeper, said the documentary has a clear goal.
“We’re trying to close the loop on the health risks of these harmful algal blooms,” Schulberg said. “All the way from research scientists to people on the front line, emergency room doctors, internal medicine doctors, registered nurses.
“We’re trying to get all these people to talk to each other,” Schulberg said, “and try to inform the public about what’s going on with our health.”
There are about 400 seats. But many people have already claimed tickets, leaving around 35 left. If you want to attend the summit, visit the Calusa Waterkeeper website for more information.