Florida’s largest freshwater lake is experiencing intense toxic algae blooms this summer, while much of southwest Florida is battling the worst red tide in years. On Sunday, people stood together, to stand for their waters.
The “Hands Along the Water” volunteer-organized events took place across Florida, from Cocoa Beach to Clearwater, to show “solidarity to defend water and wildlife,” according to statements on the many Facebook event pages. Those participating held hands for 15 minutes at the waters’ edge.
Many of the Facebook pages said the events were meant to “show that we do not, and will not stand for our beautiful beaches, wildlife, homes and livelihoods to continuously be destroyed and impacted by the water released” from Lake Okeechobee.
Earlier this year, heavy rains led to the release of water from the lake’s dam. The water, filled with nutrient runoff and chemicals, much of it from commercial farming and extensive development, baked in the hot sun and caused the algae population to explode. And that water was discharged into lakes and canals, reports CBS affiliate WTSP.
The blooms from the lake are different from the well-known red tide blooms, but some activists question if the mix of nutrients and algae flowing out of Lake Okeechobee are making the red tide worse.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott declared states of emergency in several of the state’s counties last month to aid the growing algae blooms, reports WTSP.
After touring the St. Lucie River Friday, a body of water affected by algae blooms, he directed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the South Florida Water Management District to take additional actions to reduce water discharges from Lake Okeechobee.
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