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SWFL water quality fight goes to Washington

Posted at 7:23 PM, Jul 14, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-14 19:23:53-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- Southwest Florida activists took their concerns to Washington, D.C. Thursday, to discuss toxic algae blooms with government officials.

Activists call the florescent green algae blooms appearing over Southwest Florida waterways an ecological disaster. "What's it going to take before we actually make this change? Someone to die?" said SWFL Clean Water Movement leader John Heim. "I've already witnessed some of my friends lose their arms and legs because of the bacteria levels right here in our local waters in Fort Myers Beach."

Most recently, blue-green algae has appeared in alarming quantities in Cape Coral. Heim spoke to political leaders about the green goop, saying it originates in Lake Okeechobee. He expressed that it's hurting Lee County's economy. "I don't need to remind you we are based 100 percent on tourism. Without clean water, we will not make it as a community," said Heim.

Fox 4 spoke with Brett Cox, an administrator for SWFL Clean Water Movement, as he was waiting at the airport to get to Fort Myers. He said he believes they accomplished their goal of getting their message across. "I'm pretty sure we got a message through. It's going national, which is keeping it in the spotlight and putting pressure on people. That's all we can do."

Senator Bill Nelson even joined the discussion, criticizing the government for musuing funds that could've purchased land south of Lake O to filter the polluted water and then send that water down south. "They ought to be buying land with amendment one money. If we keep the pressure on, we'll get it done but just remember it's a complicated thing," he said.