Toxic algae blooms in marinas and beaches in Martin and St. Lucie counties on the southeastern coast of Florida have caused significant business damage, according to local and state authorities in the US.
The green algae bloom first appeared in late June and became so threatening that Florida Governor Rick Scott declared a state of emergency over the July 4th holidays. It is being blamed on the discharge of millions of gallons of freshwater from Lake Okeechobee in the center of the state.
This is the second time this year that draining the lake has caused Florida’s coastal waters to become toxic. Scott declared a state of emergency last February.
Instead of remaining covered with slime, several marinas are now attempting to remove the algae by filtering the water. Kyla Morkey, who runs the Outboards Only Marina in Jensen Beach said that the filtration by Ecosphere Technologies last weekend has made the water in the marina “100% better.” The marina has been shut down for two weeks. The thick crust of algae is eight inches deep in some areas.
The smell has been unbearable, said Morkey. "It's like thousands and thousands of dumpsters with dirty diapers in them. It's choking," Morkey told local10.com.
Corey McGuire of Ecosphere Technologies used a high-tech filtration system on a mobile truck to filter the algae. "This is an immediate solution to this problem," McGuire told the news station.
Four thousand gallons per minute pump through the truck and that water is returned of the St. Lucie River. "We're oxidizing the algae as it's coming throughout the process. We're then taking that water and pushing it through a water cannon so that we can target the whole area," McGuire said.
McGuire said it involves a chemical-free process that uses sound waves to treat the water. "This is completely treated fluid. If you tested it, it would be free of algae and any sort of harmful bacteria," McGuire said.
Morkel said she hopes to have the marina up and running within a week. Other marinas in the area remain under the algae bloom threat.
Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said on Friday that it would also use another method to attempt to clean up the local marinas.
TCPalm reports that the Small Business Administration’s Disaster Loan Outreach Center is now offering federal loans to marinas and other businesses impacted by the algae bloom. The first algae bloom in February impacted 32 businesses in Martin County, which laid off 33 employees.
The paper reported that reduced lake discharges of fresh water from Lake Okeechobee have helped stem the algae bloom. The appearance of algae along the coast seems to be receding.