And due to the topography shape of Florida it is causing unusual water quality problems that scientists and biologists and doctors are now trying desperately to mitigate.
Florida is basically a large sandbar. So our ground is very porous and allows for water to flow easily above and below ground moving around large quantities of pollution that makes its way into our lakes and rivers. And because of this problem, Lake Okeechobee is largely considered now as Florida's toilet bowl and needs flushing on a regular basis which is also causing major problems along both coasts.
Well, due to this growing problem, the state of Florida's environmental protection agency, the FDEP has just recently created an all new "Dashboard" for all of us to use and view where algae blooms are happening with the end result of helping us citizens to stay out of those problem areas and not poison ourselves with this growing toxic problem in our waters here.
I just received the first link and view of this new algal dashboard today and thought I'd share it here so all in Florida or those planning on visiting Florida can also use it to help make their plans on where to avoid...
https://fdep.maps.arcgis.com/apps/webap ... 9cdf059e14
Now all of us can have up to date minute by minute water quality reporting at our fingertips.
Some Lake O fishermen question CDC research, saying tax dollars wasted studying anglers who aren't sick
You can’t see Lake Okeechobee from Cindy Massey’s post behind the time-smoothed counter at Uncle Joe’s Fish Camp, but its tawny waters have sustained her for more than three decades.
Massey and her late husband Ed raised five children on its banks after they bought the place in 1986. It’s nothing fancy, but that’s how the regulars like it – an old Florida retreat from the jagged swirl that is life in 2019.
Except when bad news seeps in around the in edges, like the ghastly images of blue-green algae that filled newspapers and TV screens last year. Not that they put much of a dent in Massey’s business – low lake levels hurt more – but she does wonder just what the blooms could mean over time.
So Massey welcomed word of an upcoming Centers for Disease Control study of how the blooms might affect the health of those who earn their livings from the lake.
Federal scientists plan to recruit some 50 captains and guides – “people who are likely to be highly exposed to the blooms on Lake Okeechobee,” said Lorraine Backer, senior scientist and environmental epidemiologist at the National Center for Environmental Health, who’s designing the project.
Researchers will follow the subjects throughout an entire bloom cycle, monitoring overall wellness and lung function, then keying that to what they learn from cyanobacteria sensors placed in and around the lake, Backer said.
Although Massey feels fine except for some allergies – “This year’s the worst they’ve ever been. Nose, eyes and sinus drainage” – she would like to know if the algae has affected others in her family.
That's what Backer's research is aiming for, because "It's an emerging environmental public health issue," she said. "Not as much attention has been paid to it by science and media."
But the body of research is growing. Exposure to blue-green algae toxins has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's and ALS, also called Lou Gehrig's disease. Dr. Walter Bradley, a neurologist and chairman emeritus of the University of Miami School of Medicine’s department of neurology, has said there also is a strong link between those toxins and nonalcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. The toxins can become airborne, Bradley said, and have been identified a mile from water sources.
Massey is hoping for answers.
“The health issues need to be straightened out. I’ve got grandkids, you know. And they’ve been talking about the neurological problems,” she said. “My grandson, he’s got high anxiety, and I’m not sure it’s a hereditary thing, or if it’s all this stuff.”
Others around the lake think the CDC needs to look farther west.
Like many who fish Okeechobee, longtime guide Steve Lake says what shows up in the Caloosahatchee and Cape Coral canals is not the same variety that appears on the lake, which he says is a benign annual occurrence.
“The stuff I see over on the coast is absolutely horrible … The water they discharge from the lake runs down those canals for 150 miles each way, picks up all that fertilizer, all the cow stuff, all the septic and I can honestly say, they have a real problem … but it’s not the same water,” Lake said.
“The algae that’s on the coast, on the news, I’ve seen it both in pictures and in person, and it’s not the same algae that’s on our lake,” Lake said. “Every year we have an algae bloom, but if it hurts my health, I sure can’t tell it,” he said. “The doctor tells me I’m the healthiest 72-year-old man she’s ever seen. And I spend a lot of time on the lake.”
Clewiston resident Ronnie Olden is welder at U.S. Sugar who grew up on the lake and fished commercially there for years until the state began prohibiting trawl-netting.
He’s not worried about the algae.
“Not out here, because the wind’s blowing. It’s not like the dead-end canals where it’s setting there and it gets stagnant, Out here, it can move.”
As for any health concerns, “Ain’t nothing wrong with me,” he laughs.
Third-generation fisherman Jack Belcher agrees with Lake.
“We’ve never had the blue-green algae like what’s on the coast. Now, we get the green algae every year, but it doesn’t stink,” said Belcher, whose boats use haul seines to pull up bream and other fish he sells as far north as Georgia. “It’s been growing in the lake ever since I can remember. It’s nontoxic … The algae that we get on the lake, I’ve swam right in the middle of it and I’m pretty healthy. Everybody out here swam in it. We have to work in it every day (and) it’s never affected nobody.”
Like his colleagues, he hadn’t heard a thing about the CDC study until The News-Press asked him about it. He thinks the scientists should have done better due diligence, since he doesn’t believe the lake’s algae causes health problems.
“If they would quit assuming,” he said, “they would save taxpayers a ton of money.”
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