The more we attempt to understand, the more confusing the red tide and blue green algae becomes

To the Editor:

We all desire a simple clear path to solve our messes to make them disappear. As we read we need to remain objective to learn! When we think with a bias it fogs our thinking. Unfortunately, that happy ending story is not going to happen here. Seriously, please read everything you can so you can begin to grasp just how complex a mess we have created. There are at least three major problems now. Each requires, no demands, our attention, and all require immediate solutions. Reality is, we lack the accurate understanding to even identify or acknowledge the factual causes of our algae problems. PS, we have done studies forever with no conclusive results. We must get serious and discover solutions we can afford, and do anything we can to fix our messes. We can not afford to let this continue.

The Everglades might be easier to understand because this one is totally man made. We drained and filled, then built a dike to prevent water to follow its natural paths. We act surprised when we add two more damns. U.S. 41 and Alligator Alley, additionally reducing wetlands that naturally filtered runoffs. We added farm lands, then mega developments, all increasing nutrient input with no way to filter pollutants out! We have some ideas that can help restore some filtrations and flow; but argue about things rather than do it. Just do it!

Then the Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River messes. This is remote from us but probably adds nutrients to our offshore red tide blooms. I’ve discussed this with several off-shore captains that spend their lives on these deeper waters. They collectively believe north bound currents can and do contribute nutrient rich Lake waters offshore feeding blooms. This makes sense and it could contribute to and stimulate off-shore outbreaks. There are opposing opinions as to where blooms originate.

Our inshore outbreaks frequently start between Stump Pass and Venice Inlet, off Manasota Key. My belief is that runoff from Venice after big rain events sources our local outbreaks! After heavy rain events they have to close Venice Beaches to swimming for dangerous sewage contamination. This has gone on for years and must be addressed. With Midnight Pass closed and Stump Pass severely restricted the inside waters are not flushing properly! Question me if you like but objective observation will justify my conclusion.

We altered natural water flows between bays and Gulf when they dredged the ICW early sixties. These alterations were from Ft. Myers to Tarpon Springs!  At some point this needs to be addressed. Larry Evans, Capt. Jack Pearson, myself and several others invested significant efforts to rebuild some natural water flows in Lemon Bay decades ago. Unfortunately, the Army Corps director educated us to the facts that to accomplish anything would require a decade and three consecutive, positive, acts of Congress! Yes, we gave up. We could easily help flows IF we could move some of these spoil sits. Good luck with this.

Finally, on Lake Okeechobee; I’m tired of hearing our problems are Big Sugar and Mosaic. I agree that sugar farming WAS a contributor; key word, was. From extensive investigation and discussions with experts and everything I can find to read; we have addressed most of their additional input! Furthermore, sugar and much of the ag farming is south of the Lake! According to everything I can find there is agreement that the large majority of, as much as 90 percent, Lake’s water flow and pollution comes from the Kissimmee River, North of the Lake? Farm lands are mostly south of the Lake. Everglades sheet flows should be restored. I don’t see how this effects our local red tides!  Mosaic and the phosphate industry have a bad track record. They have put our health at risk with spills. The industry has killed several rivers several times! Now Mosaic wants to put our local water supplies at risk to open mining by Horse creek. This can not be allowed.

We also have at least 100 airboats spraying Lake O and Kissimmee for weeds! What chemicals are they spraying? This creates more nutrients as it decays. I understand they are spraying the water hyacinth? This is hard to gather info on so far. What effects does this contribute?

Sahara Desert red sands? Yes, they dried up a big lake in Africa and now it’s dust effects our weather. Way crossed the Atlantic and all the way to Mexico! Really, and it could also be feeding red tide! I’m not making this up. It’s slowed the hurricane expectations too.

Now, we hear global warming needs to be considered in these studies? How much do we contribute? Have you ever stood on a black asphalt road on a sunny summer afternoon? Consider how many miles of roads in USA and then all over the world today. Wonder how much these effect our global temps? We paved paradise.

PS, watch how afternoon thunderstorms that used to come to our Gulf Coast stop now at the big black strips, aka I-75! Roads are changing weather; but we need more and bigger to accommodate the rapid growth? Then we just don’t understand why we have problems? At some point we must consider growth impacts and factor in their costs to our quality of life! We require sustainability. Right now we are experiencing the costs of not considering our impacts on our environments. Can we afford to continue to overlook growth impacts for money now?

Sahara Desert red sands? Yes, they dried up a big lake in Africa and now it’s dust effects our weather. Way crossed the Atlantic and all the way to Mexico! Really, and it could also be feeding red tide! I’m not making this up. It’s slowed the hurricane expectations too. Now, we hear global warming needs to be considered in these studies? How much do we contribute? Have you ever stood on a black asphalt road on a sunny summer afternoon? Consider how many miles of roads in USA and then all over the world today. Wonder how much these effect our global temps? We paved paradise. PS, watch how afternoon thunderstorms that used to come to our Gulf Coast stop now at the big black strips, aka I-75! Roads are changing weather; but we need more and bigger to accommodate the rapid growth? Then we just don’t understand why we have problems? At some point we must consider growth impacts and factor in their costs to our quality of life! We require sustainability. Right now we are experiencing the costs of not considering our impacts on our environments. Can we afford to continue to overlook growth impacts for money now?

Capt. Van Hubbard
Cape Haze