CAEP CORAL, Fla. — A build-up of scum along Manhattan Canal in Cape Coral is concerning neighbors, who say it smells as bad as it looks.
"It's unbelievable," said Anne Marie Alonso, whose home on Southeast Thirteenth Terrace is along the canal. "We can't figure out what it is."
Alonso said she normally sees birds, turtles and other wildlife in the canal, but hasn't seen them since the scum started building up on the waterway a few months ago.
"Other things have been growing too, like water lilies we've never had before," she said. "I don't know what's changed."
"We're worried it's an allergen," she added. "We've been having allergic reactions, coughing and runny noses."
The Manhattan Canal muck doesn't appear to be the blue-green algae that choked many Cape Coral canals in 2018, but it doesn't look good.
Alonso's neighbor Lawrence Donaldson doesn't think it smells good, either.
"The smell of it's getting worse," Donaldson said. "We'd like to know if we're being exposed to any health hazard."
He said the canal scum first showed up for a while last year, but didn't last long then. This time it's different.
"It's never been this big," Donaldson said. "It's never been there so long."
"We'd like (the city) to test it so we can know what it is, and how we're going to get rid of it," he added.
A spokesperson for the City of Cape Coral told Fox 4 in an email that the city's Environmental Resources Division would likely visit the canal Thursday and try to assess what the scum is. But she said that the city typically doesn't remove algae from canals.
After Fox 4 posted a photo of the canal to Twitter on Wednesday, a viewer commented that a septic tank leak might be causing the build-up of scum.
Alonso said that her home used to have a septic tank, but that she and other homeowners in the area have since switched to the city's sewer system.