Experts say conditions are ripe for toxic algae blooms to thrive in Florida this summer.
Septic tanks and a variety of other factors are partly to blame. "Algae usually dies off during the winter," WTEV recently reported. But "fewer freezes this winter allowed the algae to survive. And a buildup from fertilizers and leaky septic tanks keep feeding the problem."
The St. Johns River, the state's longest river and a key location for commercial activity, is having a particularly tough year.
"I have said for a long time, we have used and abused the St. Johns River a lot," Quinton White, a Jacksonville University marine scientist, said to WTEV.
The state legislature has stepped in by passing legislation that will soon be signed into law. "The state of Florida has picked up on the pollution problems in the St. Johns," the report said. "The legislature approved $842,000 in the budget to help correct some of the wastewater runoff problems."
Florida is not the only place where algae is a challenge this year.
"Officials say an algae bloom at a reservoir is causing water in San Diego County to have an earthy smell and unpleasant taste," the San Francisco Chronicle recently reported.
The Great Lakes are also bracing for the toxic algae burden this season.
"The problem is especially dire in Lake Erie around Toledo, Ohio, where algal blooms in 2011 and 2013 were some of the worst on record," WBEZ reported.
The problem is burdensome overseas as well.
In China, sewage disposal practices are contributing to an increasingly difficult algae problem. As the popular grows and a growing amount of human waste pours into the South China Sea, "that nutrient-packed sewage is an all-you-can-eat buffet for algae. And since some of those can be toxic to humans, sea mammals, and fish, these algae blooms are a big headache for" officials, Quartz reported.
"In fact, all along China’s coasts algal blooms are bursting more often and more intensely," the report said.
Image credit: "Florida wetlands," USFWS/Southeast © 2009, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
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