Originally published in The News-Press on April 17, 2021 by Chad Gillis

Environmental groups and water quality experts are paying more attention to Lake Okeechobee as blue-green algae levels continue to spike in some areas of the system.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection reported elevated levels of microsystis in parts of the Lake Okeechobee and traces of the toxic bacteria in the upstream portion of the Caloosahatchee River.

FDEP reports show microsystis also detected around the western edge of the lake and that 14 of 22 samples collected showed at least trace amounts of the toxins.

“The April 7 imagery was of pretty harsh cyanobacteria blooms,” said Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani. “There had been reports at Port Mayaca and a couple of other areas, and one of the recent lake samples came back with relatively high toxicity levels, above the recreational threshold.”

Blue-green algae blooms can produce cyanobacteria, a toxic bacteria that can cause upset stomach and diarrhea in humans and even kill domestic animals in high doses.

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