Army Corps works to reduce blue-green algae flowing in Caloosahatchee

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
The WINK News drone captures an image of streaks of blue-green algae seen in the Caloosahatchee in may 2021. Credit: WINK News.

Streaks of blue-green algae are flowing through the Caloosahatchee River Friday.

As the algae increases and moves closer to Fort Myers, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is taking steps to reduce it.

Josue Correa expected sun and dry weather to be conditions for a nice day on the water with his family.

“I’m trying to get the girls involved with jet skis that we just purchased Monday,” Josue Correa said.

What Correa didn’t expect were algae streaks in the water.

“I don’t like it to be quite honest because, if it’s going to affect not only us to be riding and using the river, but also who tells me it’s not going to affect the animals, the life that is here in the river?” Correa said.

It will in fact affect the life that’s in the river.

The Army Corps announced it will slow Lake Okeechobee water discharges from 2000 to 1,500 cubic feet per second, and engineers will release it in pulses.

The hope is to increase the salinity levels in the river and reduce the algae in the water.

But Chris Wittman with Captains for Clean Water says he doesn’t feel it will work.

“Two things that have really damaged the estuary is just the volume of freshwater alone,” Wittman said. “When we get more freshwater than the estuary can handle, just by lowering the salinities, it kills the habitat. It kills the grass and kills the oysters.”

Wittman, along with Gov. Ron DeSantis, blame the Corps for mismanaging the lake.

“This past dry season, when they had an opportunity to lower the lake through every possible means to send clean water south to the Everglades and beneficial flows to the Caloosahatchee River, they did not seize every opportunity,” Wittman said.

But the Army Corps says high amounts of rainfall from September through November, and the need to maintain the habitat for all creatures limit them.

DOH-Lee previously issued a health alert for the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam.

When we asked if we can expect any more alerts to come out, DOH said it depends on the status of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s testing of microcystin toxins.

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