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Gov. Scott Tours Blue-Green Algae Bloom in SWFL, Declares State of Emergency

Rachel Iacovone
Gov. Rick Scott tours the Caloosahatchee River.

As of Monday morning, the Army Corps of Engineers had halted releases of water from Lake Okeechobee to the west coast. This came after the decision to stop sending water toward the east coast late last month. Still, the persistent blue-green algae bloom brought Gov. Rick Scott to Southwest Florida for a firsthand look.

The sloshing sound of the wake against the boat carrying Gov. Scott sounded no different than usual Monday morning, but what was unusual was the color — a bright, neon green.

It was so changed, in fact, the governor said he would declare a state of emergency by the end of the day.

“You have to say, ‘Okay, make a decision. What do you think is really going to happen?’ and push your resources there," Scott said.

The resources, in this case, have been pushed toward the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for additional water monitoring stations in Southwest Florida and, on the federal level, toward fixing the Herbert Hoover dike, which surrounds Lake Okeechobee.

Credit Rachel Iacavone / WGCU
Gov. Scott addresses the media boat during his tour of the Caloosahatchee River.

Officials acknowledge, though, while monitoring will help in the future, it won’t change the so-called "guacamole-like" river water already filled with toxic blue-green algae.

Credit Rachel Iacavone / WGCU
The algae-laden water of the Caloosahatchee River below Midpoint Memorial Bridge, which connects Fort Myers and Cape Coral in Southwest Florida

Scott said it was “frustrating” to see.

“I like the water, and you know, I like to take my grandkids out on the water," Scott said. "So, I know it’s frustrating for people.”

As the governor shared his next steps with local and state officials, a man on a nearby boat casted a line into the sickly green water, as those on the tour could only watch in pained silence.

At 4 p.m. Monday, Scott officially issued the aforementioned emergency order to combat algal blooms in Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties.