Originally published in The News-Press by Amy Bennett Williams on March 2, 2019.

The nonprofit will use the funds from the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to engage with healthcare frontline workers and decision-makers about the effects of the harmful algae blooms that have ravaged the region’s fresh and saltwater since 2017.

Red tide in the Gulf and toxic cyanobacteria inland created an ecological and economic crises, and some fear short- and long-term health problems as well.

Blue-green algae builds up on the surface at the canal behind Denise Clements’ home in Cape Coral earlier this week. The algae has plagued the city for more than two months.

For more than two decades, Waterkeeper has worked to do what government agencies don’t. The grassroots nonprofit tests and monitors water quality, then shares what it’s learned in hopes of shaping environmental policy. This grant will enable it to turn its attention to the possible health consequences as well.

Florida’s Department of Health has faced sharp criticism for its muted response to the algae disaster and in recent months, has ramped up its outreach. It did not respond to calls and emails requesting comment for this story.

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