|The gross algae bloom in Florida. Photo|
by Terry Spencer/AP
A soupy, icky, possibly toxic algae bloom is gumming up the shoreline at the peak and heat of summer.
As if alligators and unrelenting humidity weren't enough, now you can't go in the water.
Or even near it.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott has declared a state of emergency because of the blue in southeast parts of the state.
And everybody's pointing fingers at each other in blame for the ickiness.
The algae is there because of polluted, phosphorus-laden water coming from Lake Okeechobee, about 35 miles away from the affected areas.
The governor says it's the federal government's fault for neglecting repairs to the lake's old dike system.
He could have a point, since the Army Corps of Engineers is inadequately funded for this type of thing. Plus, there was tons of rain in Florida this past winter and spring, so with their inadequate system, they had to release more tainted water from the lake than usual.
But lots of state officials have looked the other way as farming and other interests have dumped pollution and phosphorus in the Lake Okeechobee. Had they cracked down on that, this not have been such an issue.
As local public radio station WQCS noted, there was a deal in the works back in 2011 for the Florida Legislature to buy more land around Lake Okeechobee for water storage, but Governor Scott's administration came in and put an end to that idea.
So yeah, this might be Scott's fault, too.
Area residents say the algae smells so bad that they have to stay indoors, and when they do go outside, some of them get watery eyes and respiratory problems.
Plus, wildlife is suffering, too, and some marine animals are probably dying because of the algae.
This kind of thing happens elsewhere due to poor pollution controls, mostly from agricultural, sewage treatment plant and industrial runoff.
There was a big algae bloom on Lake Erie last summer, which threatened Toledo, Ohio's drinking water supply.
Here where I live in Vermont, toxic and thick algae have lately made appearances in and around St. Albans Bay, which I can see from my hillsice home, in the past few summers. That has caused swimming bans and warnings to keep children and pets away from the algae-slimed water. It could hurt or kill them.
Of course, it's expensive to enact pollution controls that would prevent all this phosphorus and other bad stuff from getting into waters around Florida, the Great Lakes, Vermont and elsewhere.
But do we really want to spend our summers holding our noses and worried about our health because of all this algae in the water?
Heres an aerial view of the algae in Florida to give you an idea of the scope of the Algae From Hell
And he's a sad video of a manatee trapped in the algae goop and a family trying to hose it off to give it some relief. It's unclear if the manatee made it out of the algae and survived or not: