The High Stakes Of HABs
Headlines in 2018 were dominated by the red tide along Florida’s Gulf Coast, which persisted for months and caused not only human respiratory illnesses, but also the deaths of dozens of Florida’s beloved dolphins and manatees, and hundreds of millions of dollars related to lost tourism revenue, impacts to local businesses, impacts on desalination plants, and costs of cleanup. Red tides are one type of harmful algal bloom (HAB), but another type caused by cyanobacteria (a.k.a. “blue-green algae”) more commonly afflicts inland source waters for drinking water. One such cyanobacterial HAB led to the event that crystallized the public’s awareness of the threats HABs pose to drinking water.