1st algae blooms of season reported in St. Johns River

St. Johns Riverkeeper urges Florida DEP to test for toxins, health risks

By Steve Patrick - News4Jax digital managing editor
Facebook photo via St. Johns Riverkeeper

JACKSONVILLE, Fla - St. Johns Riverkeeper is sharing reports of significant algae blooms in the lower basin of the river, including the areas of East Palatka, Welaka and Satsuma. Minor algae blooms have also been reported in Jacksonville, along the Riverwalk and in the Arlington River.

The Riverkeeper's concern is the blooms potentially get much worse as temperatures heat up.  

"This is also the time of year when homeowners are fertilizing their yards, which leads to more nutrient loading in our waterways," Riverkeeper spokesman Jimmy Orth wrote in a release. "Nitrogen and phosphorous are what fuel the algal growth that leads to the blooms."

The Riverkeeper said it would notify the Florida Department of Environmental Protection on Monday and urge it to take more samples and test for toxins and potential health risks. DEP took three samples in the Welaka/Palatka area of the river April 19, but that was before these more extensive blooms in the area were reported.

Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Florida) released a statement in response to the blooms reading in part:

Upon receiving the news yesterday, our office began working with the St. Johns River Water Management District as well as state and local officials to keep an eye on the situation as it develops. St. Johns River Water Management has taken samples of the bloom and are continuing to run tests.  In addition, our office has reached out to UF IFAS specialists and local marinas.

You can track the state's sampling activities and results online at FloridaDEP.gov/AlgalBloom.

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