Toxic Algae Blooms Reach "State of Emergency" in Florida and Around the World

<i>The Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of a blue-green algae bloom in Florida&rsquo;s Lake Okeechobee on July 2. Bloo
The Landsat 8 satellite captured this image of a blue-green algae bloom in Florida’s Lake Okeechobee on July 2. Blooms of the algae are causing ecological and economic damage downstream in the St. Lucie estuary.

Waterways in Florida — and in many parts of the world — are under siege from toxic algae blooms that are killing fish, choking cities’ fresh water supplies, harming ecosystems, and cutting into recreation and tourism revenue.

Earlier this month, fresh water estuaries near Orlando were transformed from a calm blue into a toxic, fluorescent green matt of algae, while dangerous blooms across China and India have put already stressed water supplies at risk.

Florida Governor Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency in four counties and pled with the Obama administration to declare the region a national emergency.

Reports colleague Codi Kozacek for Circle of Blue, the problems in South Florida also mirror an increase in the frequency and intensity of toxic algal blooms globally.

High-profile blooms are an annual occurrence in Lake Erie, where they contaminated water supplies in 2014 for nearly half a million people in Ohio, and in China’s Lake Taihu. The oxygen-starved “dead zones” that accompany large blooms of algae are spreading as well, totaling more than 400 globally. One of the most prominent, the Gulf of Mexico dead zone, is expected to cover an area the size of Connecticut this summer, according to a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecast.

Responsive Reporting - July 21 virtual town hall

On Thursday, July 21, I’ll be hosting a special, urgent two-part, live interactive broadcast — bring your voice and join journalists and global experts in a dynamic discussion about Florida’s — and the world’s — fast-emerging toxic algae challenge and how to fix it.

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