Originally published by The News-Press on June 15, 2022 by Amy Bennett Williams

A month into the summer rainy season, the signs have begun appearing at popular Southwest Florida waterways.

Sporting red or yellow tops depending on threat level, they warn would-be recreators about cyanobacteria, also called blue-green algae.

So far, Olga’s W.P. Franklin Lock has a health alert (the more serious of the two), while the Alva and Davis boat ramp in Fort Myers Shores have cautions.

Placed by the Florida Department of Health in Lee County, the signs don’t seem to be stemming the steady flow of boaters, Jet Skiers and anglers taking to the river, which flows from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico.

Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani points to the “massive” 160-square mile bloom on Lake O, which currently covers more than 20% of the lake’s surface “and will likely increase in distribution as we are still early in the wet season,” plus, the warming weather helps incubate blooms.

That’s seconded by James Evans, CEO of the nonprofit Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. “For the first time in a while, our weekly Caloosahatchee Conditions report shows we’re in the harmful flow envelope because of basin runoff – not the lake.”

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