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State to test algae blooms on Treasure Coast

Published: May. 31, 2016 at 10:04 PM EDT|Updated: May. 31, 2016 at 10:08 PM EDT
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Jim Harter knows a thing or two about fishing the St. Lucie Estuary.

"Where my house sits used to be a place called the Sailfish Lodge.  Built in 1921, people used to come from all over the world to fish out of there," said Harter Tuesday as he pulled his boat onto the St. Lucie River.

This long time fisherman, says discharges from Lake Okeechobee, have been happening a long time.  As he makes his way out near the Veterans Memorial Bridge, there are large neon blue-green algae blooms, in places Harter says oysters used to thrive.

"In the morning when there's no wave action, the algae will raise to the surface," said Harter.

Harter says he's frustrated by what he sees, "I don't sleep at night.  It's disgusting.  My passion in life is to be on the water and when they take it away from you, it's disheartening."

Tuesday, Governor Rick Scott was in West Palm Beach to sign a bill for the "Legacy Florida" initiative, designed to provide money to restore the Everglades.  He was asked about the recent algae blooms.

"DEP and the Department of Health, they're testing to make sure all our citizens and all our visitors are safe.  We'll be doing that all this week and we'll be doing whatever we can to figure this out," said the Governor.

The fear for Harter, is we'll see a rerun of what happened a few years ago.

"2013 was a lost summer and it looks like its going to be the same."

The Department of Environmental Protection will test wherever it spots algae, like the St. Lucie Lock, and the area where the North and South forks of the St. Lucie River meet.  One of the most prominent places for algae this week has been at Shepard's Park in Stuart.

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