Toxic Algae In Lake Okeechobee At Center Of PROTECT Florida Act

Florida GOP Rep. Brian Mast Holds Town Hall In Fort Pierce

Florida GOP Rep. Brian Mast Holds Town Hall In Fort Pierce

Florida Congressman Brian Mast will be filing "The PROTECT Florida Act" on Tuesday.

"PROTECT stands for Prioritizing Revised Operations To Eliminate Cyanobacteria Toxins.

Mast announced the bill Monday in his hometown of Stuart. Among other things, it would require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to prioritize public health when it makes decisions affecting Florida's waters.

That includes discharges from Lake Okeechobee that have been blamed on toxic algae crises.

"Right now it's not into law, and it's never been into law that our health and our safety isn't written into law that the federal government is going to look after this knowing that there's a very real problem with the water that they're sending downstream."

He says the EPA has confirmed that the water in the lake is frequently unsafe for human contact. Just last week, toxic algae was found there.

The bill would ensure the lake is at lower levels before the rainy season. Mast says that's something we're seeing this year.

"Last summer at this time, we were getting discharges because at the beginning of hurricane season last summer, Lake Okeechobee was sitting at about 12 feet, ten inches. This year, Lake Okeechobee was sitting at right around 11 feet."

He's concerned that future discharges from Lake Okeechobee will mean toxic algae flowing into our state's saltwater bodies.

Mast says that when discharges are made over the summer, toxic algae is sent into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers.

Those releases are done over concerns about the dyke surrounding Lake Okeechobee. Work is being done to repair the dyke, but that will still take some time.

Photo: Getty Images

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