ABC NEWS: Toxic red tide blooms are creeping up Florida's west coast, killing marine life and irritating humans

ABC News: Written by Julia Jacobo. August 12, 2018.

A toxic algae bloom is creeping up the west coast of the Sunshine State, killing wildlife and keeping residents and tourists away from the acclaimed beaches along the Gulf of Mexico.

Higher than normal concentrations of Karenia brevis -- also known as red tide or harmful algal blooms -- have been plaguing southwest Florida since November 2017, discoloring the seawater and leaving piles of dead fish in its wake.

Statewide, officials are monitoring the effects of the red tide. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Department of Health, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services have created a "bloom response team" to ensure the health of humans, water quality and the environment.

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WASHINGTON EXAMINER: The fight against subsidy-suckling Big Sugar: Blending populism with conservatism

Washington Examiner: Written by Washington Examiner. August 13, 2018. 

When a Republican primary debate turns to charges of undue corporate influence, we pay attention. When a conservative lawmaker lays out a populist message grounded in conservative principles, we hope the rest of the GOP is listening, too.

Last week, Florida gubernatorial candidates Rep. Ron DeSantis (who represents Florida's 6th Congressional District) and Adam Putnam (Florida's agriculture commissioner) faced off in a Republican debate. Things got feisty.

“Adam,” DeSantis said, “is basically the errand boy for U.S. sugar. He is going to stand with them, time and time again. He is going to give them everything they want.”

The immediate topic was Big Sugar’s pollution of Florida’s water supply — their fertilizers cause damaging and ugly algae blooms downstream — but DeSantis’s critique goes deeper.

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FOX 13: 66 tons of dead fish pulled from Sarasota beaches amidst red tide bloom

Fox 13: Written by Fox 13 News Staff. August 10, 2018.

SARASOTA (FOX 13) - A persistent red tide bloom continues to send dead fish and marine mammals washing up on the shores of Southwest Florida. Now, one local county says crews there have removed more than 66 tons of dead fish from beaches in just the last few days.

Friday, shifting winds had pushed the stench of red tide back to shore along Manatee and Sarasota counties, where work continued to keep the beaches clear of dead wildlife.

Red tide is an algae bloom that depletes oxygen in the water, killing marine life from fish to manatees to turtles. The organism can also cause respiratory problems and eye irritation in humans.

Scientists with Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota say the blooms are naturally occurring, but they think man-made nutrients like fertilizer and river runoff can make them worse.

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SUN SENTINEL: Everglades champion and Big Sugar foe endorses Ron DeSantis and Gwen Graham in governor primaries

Sun Sentinel: Written by Anthony Man. August 6, 2018.

An organization dedicated to protecting The Everglades is endorsing Ron DeSantis for the Republican nomination for governor and Gwen Graham in the Democratic race.

The Everglades Trust on Monday labeled DeSantis and Graham “the Everglades candidate” in their respective primaries.

Kimberly Mitchell, executive director of the Everglades Trust, said in a statement that Florida’s next governor “must be dedicated to Everglades restoration — and have the backbone to stand up to special corporate interests that have hampered progress for decades.”

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Sugar growers to state: No sale on our farmland south of Lake Okeechobee

Miami Herald: Written by Mary Ellen Klas. February 6, 2017.

TALLAHASSEE- Sugar-cane growers and other farmers who own some of the largest parcels of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area told the Florida Senate on Monday that they will not willingly sell their land to build a water-holding reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee, setting up a possible standoff in the power struggle over the future of Everglades cleanup.

The owners, which include sugar giants U.S. Sugar and Florida Crystals, said in a letter delivered to the Legislature on Tuesday that they “do not support any governmental acquisition of additional farm lands south of Lake Okeechobee to solve issues that are being caused north of Lake Okeechobee and in Martin County.

The letter is signed by 12 individuals representing 14 companies who farm in the EAA. Their argument: Any attempt to buy land to store water south of Lake Okeechobee “simply cannot store enough water to stop the discharges from Lake Okeechobee when our region is inundated from heavy rains.”

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TC PALM: Blue-green algae bloom in St. Lucie River 10 times too toxic to touch, DEP tests show

TC Palm: Written by Tyler Treadway. August 8, 2018.

A blue-green algae bloom in the St. Lucie River estuary contains toxins 10 times the level considered hazardous.

The Aug. 2 sample taken at Central Marine on the river's north shore in Stuart contained the toxin microcystin at a rate of 110 parts per billion, according to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The World Health Organization considers levels above 10 parts per billion to be hazardous in recreational contact.

Another sample taken the same day in the South Fork of the St. Lucie River at Veterans Memorial Bridge had a microcystin level of 30 parts per billion.

The only bloom with a higher toxicity so far this year was sampled July 5 at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam, the conduit for Lake Okeechobee discharges to the St. Lucie River. That sample contained microcystin at a level of 154.38 parts per billion.

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Sarasota Post: The Slow Death of Lake Okeechobee And the Rise of Toxic Blue

The Sarasota Post: Written by Rose Lipke. August 9, 2018.

Let me start by saying that nothing...I mean nothing can prepare you for the way this stuff smells. The sheer putridness of it makes every cell in you scream for you to get away from it. In areas where the wind and currents break the surface tension it is a bright neon green, varying in thickness. When it collects in stagnant areas it grows into thick mats and takes on an ashy light blue and green tint, with small pillars reaching above the surface spewing light tufts of powdery toxins that keep growing, multiplying and amassing on the surface. It grows so quickly at times you can actually watch this process happen. The stench gets into your sinuses and throat, you can taste it for hours later.

Toxic algal blooms are becoming a regular occurance in Florida, with recent outbreaks in the Santa Fe River near Gainesville, and by far the most notably in Lake Okeechobee, and with it the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers after contaminated lake waters are released into the two river systems to each coast. These algal blooms are not isolated to Florida either, but they all happen in conjunction with high levels of nutrients and pollutants in freshwater bodies. 

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MIAMI HERALD: ‘Seinfeld candidate’ clashes with ‘errand boy’ for Big Sugar in GOP debate for governor

Miami Herald: Written by Adam Smith and Steve Contorno.

Adam Putnam is a career politician who will say and do anything to win and an “errand boy” for U.S. Sugar, Ron DeSantis declared in a televised gubernatorial debate between the two GOP rivals on Wednesday night.

DeSantis is a “Seinfeld candidate” whose campaign is all about nothing, Putnam said. He knows next to nothing about Florida issues.

“You’ve run for three offices in three years. That’s a career politician with (attention deficit disorder),” the agriculture commissioner said in response to DeSantis repeatedly calling Putnam a lifelong politician.

Held at Jacksonville University and televised across the state — but not in Tampa Bay — the second and final Republican primary debate for governor included particularly sharp exchanges about environmental policy and the blue-green algae bloom crisis afflicting large swaths of Florida.

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TAMPA BAY TIMES: Only one candidate for governor still takes money from Big Sugar: Adam Putnam

Tampa Bay Times: Written by Craig Pittman. August 6, 2018.

Florida politicians from both parties used to have a sweet tooth for campaign contributions from the state's powerful sugar industry.

But now that Big Sugar is getting blamed for toxic algae blooms, a connection to the industry has turned into a political liability. This campaign season, only one person running for governor is still taking sugar's money: Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam.

So far sugar companies and their affiliates have given Putnam's campaign and his Florida Grown PAC $804,000 in direct contributions, a reward for a reliable ally. He's also received $7.6 million from five political action committees that receive a significant portion of their contributions from the industry, or one out of every five dollars he has raised.

Putnam also is the only gubernatorial candidate defending the sugar companies from accusations that they deserve some or all of the blame for the pollution-fueled algae blooms mucking up Lake Okeechobee and threatening to ruin beach communities on both coasts.

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SUN SENTINEL: Blame long line of politicians for Florida’s recurring algae crisis

Sun Sentinel: Written by Fred Grimm. August 3, 2018.

So many times over the years, Florida has been on the verge of cleaning up this noxious mess. The fix was always deemed too expensive.

Wonder how they are feeling now, the pennywise powerboys who dodged and delayed and deceived and never found the money to honor their faux commitments?

They prevaricated for years. Administration after administration. And now they can see what their collective inaction wrought as plumes of toxic algae spill out of Lake Okeechobee and course down the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries. Now, the Florida formerly known as paradise suffers simultaneous disasters, east coast and west coast. Another summer ruined for fishing, surfing, kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, boating. With canceled hotel reservations, closed beaches, lonely restaurants and angry tourists posting their toxic green algae photos on social media.

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