Fort Lauderdale investigating algae blooms in city canals

Residents advised not to swim in water and keep pets away

By Tim Swift - Local10.com Digital Editor

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - Residents along a canal in Fort Lauderdale have reported seeing bright green algae blooms this weekend, prompting city officials to investigate.

Chaz Adams, a spokesman for the city of Fort Lauderdale, said officials have notified the Florida Department of Environmental Protection about the issue.

"They are the experts in this area and will determine if the algal bloom presents a risk to human health," Adams said.

Joe Mazella, who lives in the Las Olas Isles neighborhood of Fort Lauderdale, noticed the sludge fouling the water near his house and took photos and videos.

"Happy to see my toxic algae videos and photos go viral," Mazella said. "We must not let Fort Lauderdale waterways fall victim."

This summer, Florida's West Coast has been plagued by saltwater algae blooms called "red tide." Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency as hundreds of dead fish and other marine animals have washed ashore and the stench has driven away tourists from beaches. 

The algae found in Fort Lauderdale's canals near East Las Olas and Bontona avenues is likely toxic blue-green algae found in freshwater. Officials advise people not to swim near algae blooms and to keep their pets away from the water.

Lake Okeechobee has been struggling with a surge of blue-green algae this summer as well.

The algae is toxic and can cause stomach pain, headaches, rashes and even kidney and liver damage, although no one is reported to have died from these toxins in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Adams said there several things residents can do lessen the impact of an algae bloom:

  • Do not fertilize your lawn near the waterways. Fertilizers used in landscaping contain high amounts of nitrogen and phosphorous. Rainwater washes those into the water and feeds the algal bloom.
  • Pick up after your pet. Pet waste has high concentrations of nitrogen. Pet waste left on the street or lawn is washed away into the storm drains. All drains lead to the waterways, including canals, rivers, bays and beaches. Do not dispose of pet waste in the waterways.

Residents can report algal blooms directly to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection at 855-305-3903 or online at www.reportalgalbloom.com.

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