JACKSONVILLE – Based on information provided by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Health, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers advises the public, marinas, and those operating commercial and recreational vessels through the Okeechobee Waterway that there is the potential of encountering blue green algae.
The Lake Okeechobee Waterway includes the St. Lucie River, the St. Lucie Canal (C-44), Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River. It allows boaters to travel from coast to coast.
According to the Florida Department of Health, visitors should be aware that water from areas with blue-green algae can make animals and people sick, and they should stay away from these areas. This algae may be blue, bright green, brown or red, and can have a strong odor like rotting plants. People who are very sensitive to smells may have respiratory irritation. If you come into contact with blue-green algae, get out of the area and wash off with soap and water. See your doctor if you think blue-green algae has made you sick.
The following precautions should be taken if you see algae:
• ◾Do not swim at this location.
• Avoid getting water in your eyes, nose or mouth.
• ◾Do not eat shellfish from affected area.
• ◾Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water. Throw out the guts. Cook fish well.
• ◾Keep pets and livestock away from affected location.
For Information about algal blooms, visit:
• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Water Quality Status Map at protectingfloridatogether.gov/water-quality-status/lake-okeechobee
• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s Algal Bloom Dashboard at https://floridadep.gov/AlgalBloom or call 850-245-2118.
• ◾The Florida Department of Health’s Harmful Algae Blooms web page at www.floridahealth.gov/environmental- health/aquatic-toxins/harmful-algae-blooms/index.html or call 850-245-4250.
For up to date lock information, contact the shift operator 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at:
• St Lucie Lock & Dam 772-287-2665 or 863-662-9148;
• Port Mayaca Lock & Dam 561-924-2858 or 863-662-9424;
• Moore Haven Lock & Dam 863-946-0414 or 863-662-9533;
• Ortona Lock & Dam 863-675-0616 or 863- 662-9846;
• WP Franklin Lock & Dam 239-694-5451 or 863-662-9908;
• Canaveral Lock 321-783-5421 or 863-662-0298 (6 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.)
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Point of Contact is Mr. Gary Hipkins at Gary.L.Hipkins@usace.army.mil or 863-983-8101.