Blue-green algae bloom triggers health alert in part of Lee County

Reporter: Elizabeth Biro
Published: Updated:

The Florida Department of Health in Lee County is issuing a health alert due to blue-green algae blooms present in the Caloosahatchee River near the Alva Boat Ramp.

The releases are a third of what Southwest Florida was getting in February and March.

The estuary does need a little fresh water because that balances the salinity and helps the tape grass.

As of Friday, there were blue-green algae blooms in the area. The bloom does have a bit of a stench, but experts say this is typical during these warming months.

The massive releases in previous months were coming directly from Lake Okeechobee, that’s how the Army Corps can get a lot out and quickly lower the lake’s water levels.

The lesser releases starting on Friday are coming from the Franklin Lock and Dam 43 miles down from the lake. Its water is integrated with everything coming from the watershed.

Lake Okeechobee just dipped below 15 feet. Florida Gulf Coast University’s Barry Rosen says that’s above average but in a good place. The Army Corps wants it low before Hurricane Season, and we want it low before algae season.

“They’d rather not release it during a bloom, but if the lake were too high, the integrity of the dike and human life and that takes precedence over a bloom being in the water,” said Rosen.

Another reason Rosen said the releases can be good is because it keeps the water moving. These blooms love stagnant water. The blooms are more easily able to multiply since still water doesn’t disturb them.

The releases from Lake Okeechobee keep water moving and wash it out of the system.

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