Health officials warn people not to touch toxic green waters

Toxic green algae invades local waterways (courtesy of Jim Garrity)

Martin County Health Officials warn people not to even touch the water as a green toxic algae continues to spread east.

Tueday, the health department signs went up at boat ramps and parks along the St. Lucie River.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection collected water samples from reported toxic algae bloom along the St. Lucie River but conclusive results aren't expected for as long as 4 days.

"We've got bad pockets of toxic algae and we need numbers quickly," said river activist with Mike Conner, who is frustrated to see people still swimming in the water.

Right now by air the toxic algae is clearly visible from Lake Okeechobee all the way to Stuarta 30 mile span.

"It is unbelievable the Corps would let this stuff go, knowing that it is toxic," Conner said.

The Army Corps of Engineers opened the locks Friday to allow massive amounts of the water to flow east to drop the lake level.

The algae tested last week in Lake Okeechobee measured at a 24 for toxic green algae--that's twice the allowed human exposure limit.

And within 72 hours of increasing the flows from Lake O, Martin County residents began to see the same green algae, with the concentration levels rising daily.

Just how toxic? We are waiting on test results.

"The estuary is loaded with nutrients from the Lake. So it's a perfect storm. it's a soup," Conner said.

Martin County Commissioners declared a State of Emergency this year, and continue to press for funding to complete Everglades projects to send more water south.

While many boaters and fishermen fear another lost summer of toxic waterways, many are mobilizing to fight the political battle.

"It starts in the Lake. It goes in the C44 canal and it ends up in our St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon," Sewall's Point Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, "I was thinking, The recovery of this river is in the people. No government can exist in today's age knowingly bringing this upon its people. It continues to be our time to change history."

Green toxic algae is also present in waterways on the west coast where they have releases as well. There, local leaders have shut down parks to swimming to keep people from coming into contact with the water.

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