Scott declares state of emergency over algae blooms on Treasure Coast


Sample of blue-green algae in Madison, Wisconsin - PHOTO BY MARK SADOWSKI VIA FLICKR
With widespread algae blooms causing beaches to be closed in Martin County, Gov. Rick Scott issued a state of emergency for Martin and St. Lucie counties on Wednesday.

The order allows the Department of Environmental Protection and the Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission to sidestep state law in order to take actions needed to reduce the spread of the blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries, located on the east and west side of Lake Okeechobee. Scott's order also allows the South Florida Water Management District to reduce the flow of water into Lake Okeechobee through additional water storage projects and calls on the federal government to approve permits for the state's dispersed water management programs.

In a press release accompanying his emergency order on Wednesday, Scott blamed President Obama for the water conditions.

"Florida's waterways, wildlife and families have been severely impacted by the inaction and negligence of the federal government not making the needed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike and Florida can no longer afford to wait," Scott said.

Scott's directives also create a hotline to report algae blooms and call for state officials to deploy additional staff to survey and sample impacted areas. On Tuesday, Martin County Commissioners declared a state of emergency in response to "toxic green algae" after elevated levels of toxins were found June 20 at sampling sites along the St. Lucie River. The county's health department issued an advisory that encouraged people to avoid discolored water or visible blooms.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson is expected to visit to the area on Thursday, and U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is planning to tour the region on Friday.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Orlando Weekly works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Central Florida.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Orlando’s true free press free.