Here’s How You Can Help Solve Florida’s Toxic Algae Problem

Florida is well-known for its beaches and waterways, but lately the state has become the center of national attention — not for the beauty of its resources, but for its pollution.

That state has issued a state of emergency over an unprecedented amount of toxic algae blooming in its waterways as a result of fertilizer-filled water. The green, slimy and smelly muck is keeping people from enjoying the beach and also killing wildlife.

Fish and bird deaths have been reported from animals that were exposed to the algae and videos of endangered manatees and an alligator gasping for air while swimming in green murky water have made their way to the internet.

So how can a single person possibly help solve such a gigantic issue? Here are some tips:

1. Skip the fertilizer.

While the majority of fertilizer in the water causing the algal bloom is from agriculture, fertilizer from urban areas also eventually washes off into waterways like lakes and rivers when it rains.

2. Boat responsibly.

When organic waste ends up in the water, it acts like a natural fertilizer for the algae to bloom so it’s important to make sure boats don’t have leaks on their sewage tanks that will spill into the water. If pets are on the boat, never toss their waste overboard and when back on land, properly dispose of it.

“Pump out stations at marinas allow boaters to safely dispose of their sanitary system’s contents without dumping wastes into the water,” explains the Environmental Protection Agency’s website.

3. Tell the EPA to prioritize solving the issue.

A petition asking the EPA to take action and enact policies that prevent corporations and agriculture giants to continue dumping sewage, manure and fertilizer into Florida’s waterways has gathered more than 52,000 signatures so far.

4. Regularly inspect and maintain a septic tank.

According to the Miami Waterkeeper, septic tanks should be inspected every three to five years to prevent leakages that run off into waterways.

5. Vote.

The toxic algae problem is not new in Florida. In 2008, then governor Charlie Crist negotiated a deal to buy some land in the Everglades that would allow water to flow south and diminish the amount of waste ending up in estuaries. That plan, however, fell through when the current governor Rick Scott (who doesn’t exactly have the best track record when it comes to wildlife) took over and without the land, any efforts to restore current affected waterways and prevent future blooms are practically impossible.

“The algae problem in Florida is a political problem, not a scientific or legal problem so think about it when you’re voting,” suggests John Cassani, a retired aquatic ecologist currently working with the Caloosahatchee Riverwatch, a non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of the Caloosahatchee River and its watershed. “The reason why agencies aren’t seeking a proactive solution is because of the politics so keep that in mind when choosing someone who will serve for years.”

Photo Credit: ThinkStock


John B
John B11 months ago

Thanks for sharing.

Sarah Hill
Sarah Hillabout a year ago


Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus1 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Fi T.
Past Member 1 years ago

Nobody can be benefitted from this

Marija Mohoric
Marija M1 years ago

thank you

S M.
S M1 years ago

Please support Ocean River Institute, has a website and actions can take to help and a f'book page.

Extra info on this problem c/o ST, - 'One way we can all help is by not purchasing so called anti-bacterial products. They don't work on your skin, as a matter of fact, you would have to scrub your hands for twenty minutes (minutes, not seconds) to see any effect from this garbage. What these products do is kill beneficial bacteria in our drainage systems and ultimately our lakes, streams and oceans. Fungi (Algae) thrives when bacteria levels are low. So, using these products adds to this algae problem! Please stop using these products! If it's labeled as being "anti-bacterial," or if it contains ingredients like Triclosan, Triclocarban and other ingredients disguising themselves with other "T" names, please don't buy them, please!'

Jeanne Rogers
Jeanne R1 years ago

The problem is due to Scott and his GOP cronies!

Quote from Huffington Post: "Tight control of pollution, it turns out, is the last thing that top campaign funders — like Big Sugar — want. As a result, the Republicans war against the U.S. EPA has been unremitting. Florida’s GOP has been on its own jihad against federal authority, claiming states’ rights in favor of local jurisdictions except — of course! — when it comes to the threat by local jurisdictions to clamp down on fertilizer pollution by Big Ag. Then the state steps in!

Now in Florida, all the little piggies have their hands out to the federal government. If I were President Obama, I would be... livid.

Governor Scott blames the president, but in his six years as governor he has branded his bona fides by; a) rejecting federal authority, b) spurning federal assistance (ie. Obamacare), c) knee-capping state environmental agencies and science staff, d) cutting regulations specific to forms of pollution causing the algae blooms and e) lobbying against rule making by the U.S. EPA to regulate fertilizers."

Clearly, it's not the EPA or the federal gov't!

Patricia H.
Patricia Harris1 years ago

You know, it would be very helpful if we know of any living organism that would eat the algae (toxic or non toxic)

Jane R.
Jane R1 years ago

Petition signed. Everyone needs to do their part to prevent the algae blooms from returning.

Ronald Walker
RONALD Walker1 years ago

The real problem is money. Governor Rick Scott gets his money from sugar. The sugar would not be so profitable if it was not for government subsidies. So my question why is the federal government bank rowing sugar? The two item we need less of is sugar and Corporate welfare. Corporate welfare cost more than human welfare. Does anyone think the the Republicans will cut corporate welfare?