NEWS PRESS: May rains bring nutrients that could fuel red tide in Southwest Florida

News Press: Written by Chad Gillis. May 30, 2018.

Stormwater flowing into the Caloosahatchee River has water watchdogs and scientists concerned that red tide could strengthen or that another toxic algae could bloom soon.

Several inches of rain have fallen on the region since the wet season started on May 15, and that water has carried too many nutrients too fast to the river and its estuary. 

"This represents the first big flush of the season, and a lot of nutrients come in with the first flush, so hopefully, we won’t see an algae bloom in response to that," said John Cassani, with Calusa Waterkeeper. "And I think there's a valid concern that (high nutrients in the estuary) aren't going to help with the red tide." 

Red tide has been lingering in Lee County since November, with levels varying from background traces to blooms thick enough to be detected by satellite. 

It occurs naturally in the Gulf of Mexico, but water quality scientists say the intensity and duration of the blooms are likely increased by nutrients from the landscape and Lake Okeechobee. 

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