Oct 09, 2019

Blue-Green Algae Task Force in Florida Takes Stance on Water Quality

The state task force charged with cleaning up Florida's ailing waterways is completing its list of recommendations that will soon face lawmakers. 

Cyanobacteria

The Blue-Green Algae Task Force in Florida aims to expedite water quality improvements in the next five years with a list of recommendations delivered to lawmakers.

According to the Gainesville Sun, the list addresses basin management action plans, agriculture and best management practices, human waste, storm water treatment systems, public health and data-monitoring programs. The Florida Department of Health recognizes that some blooms release toxins that make ecosystems, animals and people sick.

"We find that the recommendations regarding agriculture and Best Management Practices (BMPs) are strong, particularly the statement that the effectiveness of BMPs be supported by adequate data to justify the presumption of compliance granted upon enrollment and implementation," said Deborah Foote with the Sierra Club Florida Chapter to task members

A key responsibility for this group is making recommendations to reduce algae blooms that have plagued coastal Florida, particularly as a result of the toxic algae releases in Lake Okeechobee in 2018. Initiated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the release contained cyanobacteria and harmful algae blooms. There were 12 times during the 2018 blue-green algae bloom when water in and around the St. Lucie River was too toxic to swim in, according to the Department of Environmental Protection algae website.

In 2019, health officials were criticized for not adequately responding to a blue-green algae bloom that was strong enough to cause then-governor Rick Scott to issue a state of emergency.

“Congress and the federal government need to do more to help families who are facing harmful algal blooms because of the water they are releasing into our communities from Lake Okeechobee,” Scott said in the news release. 

Task force members said they expected to tackle issues like water reuse, biosolids and fertilizers in urban landscapes in future meetings, according to News-Press

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