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11. Algal Blooms

(FDEP)  The nature of most freshwater algal bloom events makes it difficult to predict where and when a bloom will occur or how long it will last. However, lessening the negative effects of algal blooms is possible through restoration work to improve water quality by reducing nutrients. Reducing nitrogen and phosphorous levels can help decrease the intensity and duration of algal blooms.

(FDEP)  The Florida Department of Health (DOH) takes the lead in determining if a harmful algal bloom presents a risk to human health. DOH issues health advisories for recreational waters when there is a risk of the public coming into contact with existing algal bloom as it deems appropriate.

The World Health Organization considers toxin levels under 10 micrograms/liter to represent a low-level risk for adverse health outcomes from short-term recreational exposure; however; certain sensitive populations (e.g., children, the elderly and immunocompromised populations) may still be at risk even at low concentrations and should avoid and exposure.

(FDEP)  Although blue-green algae are found naturally, increases in nutrients can exacerbate the extent, duration, and intensity of blooms. Other factors that contribute to blooms include warm temperatures, reduced water flow, and lack of animals that eat algae. Although they can occur at any time, blue-green algae are most common in Florida during the summer and early fall, with high temperatures and abundant sunlight. The summer also brings storms that have the potential to deliver nutrients into waterways through stormwater runoff.

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