St. Johns Riverkeeper to take samples after algae reemerges

Toxic algae in St. Johns River stretches from Doctors Lake to Shands Bridge

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

Toxic algae has reemerged in the St. Johns River, primarily in a stretch from Doctors Lake in Clay County to the Shands Bridge in St. Johns County.

Environmental advocacy group, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, told News4Jax that it would be taking samples Wednesday morning to get an idea of how dangerous of a problem it could be. 

Despite the return of the green algae, longtime boaters weren't too concerned -- yet.

"(I see it) every year, about this time, when the heat blows it in from the river," said Pete Hooper, who has been floating the river for more than two decades.

Hooper said his boat should be OK, but others could be affected by the algae, which could potentially become worse with more rain mixed with the summer heat.

"It doesn’t do anything to our boats because we’ve got pretty-good sized boats," Hooper said. "But the small stuff it can."

Jerry Moore said he's been watching the algae accumulate for days in the river around the Shands Bridge.

"Yesterday and day before, it was pretty thick out there," Moore told News4Jax on Tuesday. "I’ve seen it up around Doctors Lake, around Whitey’s Fish Camp. It was up pretty bad here (the) past two or three days."

According to the St. Johns Riverkeeper, the algae comes from fertilizer, as well as pet waste and sewage. The green algae emerges when the conditions are right -- there's a lot of rain washing in the pollution and it gets really hot.

The algae is not just a problem in Northeast Florida. Gov. Rick Scott on Monday issued an emergency order over the reemergence of toxic algae outbreaks on both coasts, as the regions’ water quality blossoms into a political issue.

Scott imposed the order for Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties “to help combat algal blooms caused by Lake Okeechobee water discharges from the Army Corps of Engineers.”

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