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Experts are working to prevent harmful algae from entering local canals

Bubble Curtain maintenance in Cape Coral
Posted at 3:23 PM, Mar 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-16 08:07:25-04

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — On Wednesday, the waterway where Everest Canal meets the Caloosahatchee River will be intermittently closed between 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Friday, March 17, 2023.

A City of Cape Coral dive team will be performing in-water maintenance on the Everest Canal bubble curtain.

The city says bubble curtains, comprised of diffuser plates are placed on the bottom of canals, which produce a "wall" of air bubbles that help prevent toxic algae from entering the canals from the Caloosahatchee River.

Water Experts like Chris Wittman, the co-founder of the nonprofit, Captains for Clean Water said harmful water releases from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River can also intensify Southwest Floirda's issues of Red Tide.

“The possibility of harmful discharges from Lake Okeechobee (Lake O) as we get into the wet season are a reality… they are a possibility,” said Wittman.

On Wednesday as dark storm clouds rolled over the Caloosahatchee River the chance of harmful algae discharges from Lake O into the river during the approaching rainy season, is a chance the City of Cape Coral wants its bubble curtains to be ready for.

While maintenance on the bubble curtains will help keep canals clean, Wittman says future water releases could create an even bigger problem for areas impacted by Red Tide.

“The nutrients and pollution in that water from the lake is like adding fuel to a forest fire it makes these blooms last much longer," said Wittman.

On Wednesday, out-of-state visitors like Zach Carr, who was launching a boat out of the Everest Parkway canal said the impacts from harmful algae, like dead fish, aren't hard to miss.

“We went to Fort Myers Beach and saw a bunch over there,” said Carr.

Wittman said Lake O water levels mean releases are almost guaranteed when more rain is added in the coming months.

The latest numbers from the South Florida Water Management District showed since the start of 2023, over 5 inches of additional water have been added to the lake from the North Basin alone.

Lake O inflows 2023