Protestors vow to vote out elected officials over water quality

"We're not going to wait any longer."
Posted at 10:49 PM, Jul 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-11 06:27:16-04

Dozens of protestors gathered on Fort Myers beach to demand a solution to Lake Okeechobee water releases that have led to a state of emergency in several Southwest Florida counties.

"Those elected officials that do not take the action to buy the land, clean the water and send it south will be voted out of office period," said Chris Wills of Everglades Trust.

Wills a member of an everglades restoration group traveled from Miami with his partner Daniela Ferrera to address what they say is an environmental crisis.

"This is not a political issue, this is a clean water issue," said Ferrera. "Our children should not be swimming in a toilet," added the activist as dozens of protestors lined up behind her on the Fort Myers beach fishing pier.

Lee County joins St. Lucie, Martin and Palm Beach counties under a state of emergency due to the growth of toxic blue green algae blooms on the state's Treasure Coast.

The blooms formed after polluted water was released from Lake Okeechobee. Florida's largest fresh water lake which has reached high levels due to heavy rainfall.

Samples taken four days ago by the Florida Department of Health, which only tests for human pathogens, shows Lee County beaches are safe for swimming.

Protestor Cyndi Berger, who says she got a nocardia bacterial infection from the water, believes some are taking a dip at their own risk.

"I wasn't aware and this happened to me so if people are aware maybe they won't go in the water until we get it cleaned and maybe the government will do something about," said Berger.

Nocardia bacteria is found in soil and water; Berger's foot now has a black mark where the infection sprouted.

Like many of the protestors, Berger says she plans on voting against elected officials who don't plan to address the condition of Southwest Florida's beaches and estuaries.