Cape Coral treating blue-green algae bloom in a canal system

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Matthew Seaver
Published: Updated:

A blue-green algae bloom has been detected in the Boris Canal system in Cape Coral. The bloom covers 20 acres and six canals.

The Department of Health is putting up signs with warnings about the health risks associated with blue-green algae blooms, and the city is already looking at treating it.

The algae bloom, and the warning signs are in Michael Rey’s backyard.

“It concerns me that it’s in there, but it would concern me even more if the city knew about it and didn’t do anything about it,” said Rey.

Cape Coral is certainly doing something about it. The city hired Bill Kurth and his company, Solitude Lake Management, to turn the little green gunk into something that won’t leave you in a funk.

“When they see our guys out here, they will be wearing a full Tyvek suit and face shield, and it’s mainly to keep it out of their eyes,” said Kurth.

Kurth said don’t be scared of these chemicals and guys in full-body suits. Once the peroxide-based algaecide is mixed in the water, he promised it’s safe for the environment.

“This particular one will raise the oxygen levels as were applying it, so there is no real risk for fish kill or anything else. And the really great part is once it’s done, it breaks down into hydrogen and oxygen, and there’s really no residue,” said Kurth.

Rey says hallelujah to that. The last thing he wants is a fish kill in his backyard.

“There’s a lot of bluegills and bass in these things, so I’d hate to see that get destroyed by anything,” said Rey.

Does this algaecide get everything? Kurth is hoping this job is one and done.

“You can never guarantee 100% control. If necessary, we can do another treatment, but I don’t anticipate that. We’re trying to get this controlled in one shot,” said Kurth.

The city said the spray will begin within the next week. They’ve also sent out a reminder about fertilizer restrictions starting June 1.

With the rainy season now here, runoff from a fertilizer with phosphorous or nitrogen can add excess nutrients to the water, meaning more algae blooms.

In Florida, Blue and green are usually good things, But not In the water.

“We’re still in dry season. So there’s a lot of standing water that’s just sitting there. And for some reason that seems to support blue green algal blooms,” said Dr. Mike Parsons, with FGCU’s Water School.

The standing water in the Boris Canal system is getting a taste of that bloom, but this freshwater canal doesn’t flow in or out of any body of water.

WINK News asked Dr. Parsons how is it blooming?

“Maybe it’s leaf litter, maybe it’s lawn clippings, it might be at the bottom of the canal, maybe it’s fertilizer use nearby,” said Parsons.

The City of Cape Coral thinks it’s even some of the rapid housing growth in this area. They wrote up a water quality report with this list of possible reasons, and in the same report they listed a solution for the algae. A peroxide-based algaecide that crews with Solitude Lake Management will spray into the water.

“It’s really a very strong oxidizer so you’re really breaking it down kind of with oxygen and it gives very rapid results,” said Kurth.

So will that get rid of all of the specs of little green gunk? Dr. Parsons says likely not, but that’s not such a bad thing.

“They take up nutrients, so they help remove the nutrients out of the water. So they are good. But a problem is when they get out of control. Just like kids, children are good until they get out of control, which we all know is far too often,” said Parsons.

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