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Port Charlotte residents spotting blue-green algae as Lake O experiences blooms

Blue-Green Algae
Posted at 4:17 PM, May 30, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-30 16:39:20-04

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. — On Tuesday, over 200 miles of visible blue-green algae were reported by the Calusa Waterkeeper on Lake Okeechobee and were creating concerns for some of the communities in Port Charlotte who said they’re already seeing the nasty bacteria in their canals.

Recently, the Florida Department of Health in Lee County issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Caloosahatchee River near the community of Fort Myers Shores.

Officials said it was a response to a water sample taken on 5/23/2023.

On Tuesday, members of Florida’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force focused on how they are monitoring the Caloosahatchee River.

In Port Charlotte, people like Steven Mudrak said he has lived in Port Charlotte for over 20 years and braces yearly for the return of blue-green algae.

“I can just get out a couple of steps in my backyard and smell it and I gotta get back in,” said Mudrak.

An annual visitor Mudrak said clashes with his health since he suffers from the lung disease, COPD.

“I can't go out in the backyard 'cause the closer I get to the canal the harder it is on my lungs,” said Mudrak.

On Tuesday, neighbors of Steven’s said they are even starting to see some of the bacteria show up on the surface of their canals.

At Lake O, according to NOAA, algal blooms have covered about 260 square miles on the lake, especially in Fisheating Bay and along the western shoreline.

The water on that western side eventually ends up in the Caloosahatchee River.

A focus point for the state’s Blue-Green Algae Task Force as Southwest Florida moves through the rainy season.

On Tuesday, members were looking at both water quality trends and hot spots for the algae they say were identified through monitoring sites placed in waterways near Lake O.

Some members said it's hard to pinpoint the exact source of the algae growth.

During that meeting, the conversation focused on reducing nutrient pollution caused by agricultural pollution.