Palm Beach Post: Algae blooms a disaster many years in the making

Palm Beach Post: Algae blooms a disaster many years in the making. August 27, 2016. Point of View. Written by Preston T. Robertson.

Recent state and national headlines are full of the algal bloom disaster now unfolding in South Florida, especially along our east coast and in Martin County. A wave of green, smelly, toxic goop has invaded coastal areas, fouling water and suffocating aquatic species and manatees. This situation is not only upsetting, it is, unfortunately, completely predictable.

Since the Hoover Dike was completed in the 1960s, essentially making Lake Okeechobee into a giant bath tub, pollutant-laden water from agricultural and other sources have been deposited into the Kissimmee River and surrounding watersheds which has traveled south to the Lake. Nitrogen and phosphorous now degrade this once pristine water body, which had once been a fishery of great renown. Following completion of the dike, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, fearing a breach or overflow of the dike, has pulsed polluted water east and west, to the coasts. Prior to the dike, clean water had flowed slowly south, thereby creating the “River of Grass” and the Everglades. Today, millions of gallons polluted water are shunted to the St. Lucie Canal eastward or to the Caloosahatchee River westward.

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