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Florida Algae Bloom Explodes, Prompts State of Emergency

Image: Florida Algae Bloom Explodes, Prompts State of Emergency

Algae covered water at a marina in Stuart, Florida. (AP Photo/Terry Spencer)

By    |   Tuesday, 05 Jul 2016 09:41 AM

A Florida algae bloom that has exploded and spread into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries off the state's Atlantic Ocean coast has prompted Gov. Rick Scott to call a state of emergency.

The state of emergency for Martin and St. Lucie counties will allow state and local governments to take "swift action" to an effort to slow the spread of the blooms, a statement from Scott's office's said.

"The order also allows the South Florida Water Management District to reduce the flow of water into Lake Okeechobee through additional water storage projects," Scott said. "In addition to our executive order, I am calling on the federal government to speedily approve permits for our dispersed water management programs."

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District announced plans to reduce the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee on Friday, reported The Associated Press. Some have blamed the Okeechobee flow for fueling the algae problem.

"Our water managers have dealt with such large quantities of rain and runoff entering the lake that it would cover the entire state of Delaware in two feet of water," said Col. Jason Kirk, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville district commander.

"However, after visiting with local elected officials in Martin County yesterday and viewing the algae first hand, we felt compelled to take action, even though we need to remain vigilant in managing the level of Lake Okeechobee." 

Scott appeared to step into controversy when he held the Obama administration responsible for the bloom in his statement on Wednesday.

"Because the Obama administration has failed to act on this issue, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers continues to discharge millions of gallons of water into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries resulting in the growth of blue-green algae which is now entering residential waterways in South Florida." 

"Although the president has failed to do what is needed to address this growing issue, the State of Florida will devote every available resource to find solutions for the families and businesses in this area." 

The Tampa Bay Times took exception to Scott's position in an editorial on Thursday.

"… Scott is only reacting to a crisis long in the making," the editorial said. "And worse, he is using other people's misery to score political points. Obama is not the culprit. This governor fought the federal government for years over the state's clean-water standards. He decimated the water management districts, cut environmental enforcement, rejected a plan by former Gov. Charlie Crist to buy sugar land for water storage and signed into law a bloated water resources bill that will encourage sprawl."

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A Florida algae bloom that has exploded and spread into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries off the state's Atlantic Ocean coast has prompted Gov. Rick Scott to call a state of emergency.
florida, algae, bloom, state of emergency
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2016-41-05
Tuesday, 05 Jul 2016 09:41 AM
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