JACKSONVILLE, Fla – The algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee now covers half the lake after expanding from 40% in July.
The major bloom of blue-green algae has plagued the states largest lake all summer.
The algae may be thriving due to boosted concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorus in the water from agricultural fertilizers.
Copious rainfall from Hurricane Irma along with a wet spring boosted nutrient loaded water into the lake.
Florida Sea Grant says blue-green algae blooms prefer warm water, and they outcompete other kinds of algae in those conditions.
The nutrients and fresh water fueling naturally occurring blue-green algae growth also comes from local stormwater runoff and septic tanks.
Algae blooms have occurred in past like last year but few people noticed because the Army Corps of Engineers did not have to drop lake water levels to reduce the risk of flooding.
Unfortunately, no effective large scale treatment method exists to remove blue-green algae blooms.
It may take cooler fall temperatures to end it unless a tropical storm or hurricane halts the bloom.