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Environmental Protection Agency sets new water quality standards for swimming

Posted at 1:36 AM, May 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 01:36:26-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. —
The Environmental Protection Agency released new water quality standards on Wednesday, setting guidelines for cyanotoxin levels in the water.

The EPA concentrations for microcystins are eight micrograms per liter and 15 micrograms per liter for cylindrospermopsin. These recommendations are protective measures to warn people before swimming or doing any recreational water activity.

However, the final draft did not please some environmental groups, so they are taking matters into their own hands.

Calusa Waterkeeper, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, and Center for Biological Diversity filed a petition against the Florida Department of Environmental Protection today asking for pollution limits on algae cyanotoxins. The state could be the first to establish any regulations on cyanotoxins.

“We think this will add to the toolbox that will bring more attention and more emphasis on public health issues associated with harmful algal blooms,” said John Cassani with Calusa Waterkeeper.

“We need the state of Florida to say “yes, this makes common sense”. Lets make sure that our people are safe," said Ryan Ogera, CEO of Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation.

In an email, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection said they are reviewing the EPA's new guidelines. They also sent the following relating to efforts to combat harmful algal blooms:

"In response to Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order the Department has a new Chief Science Officer who will oversee the recently formed Blue-Green Algae Task Force. This task force, as well as key DEP scientists, will be engaged as the state evaluates this important issue. In the interim, residents and visitors continue to be advised to avoid coming into contact with algae and to stay out of the water where a visible bloom is present."