■ STAFF REPORT
Furthering the Florida Department of Environmental Protection’s commitment to making water-quality information more readily available and understandable to the public, the agency has launched a new interactive algal bloom dashboard. This dashboard is a visual enhancement to the state’s existing sampling slate. This data have been publicly available on DEP’s website, but previously did not allow the public to easily see where algal blooms were occurring in Florida in real time.
DEP Secretary Noah Valenstein said, “We’re excited to share this new tool with residents and visitors so that we can all better understand the state of algal blooms and plan our recreational activities accordingly. The Department is committed to increased transparency, and this is an important first step. As we head into Memorial Day weekend, I encourage the public to check the status of algal blooms in their area if they plan to recreate in freshwater where blue-green algae can occur.”
The algal bloom dashboard features real-time updates of sample locations for up to 90 days and all available details related to those samples, such as photos and toxin information. Users can search by specific address, Zip code, city or place. The tool includes quick links to other resources such as public health information. There is also a brief “How to” video to aid in interacting with the new tool, which is also mobile-friendly.
The Department will continue issuing weekly blue-green algae updates and encourages those interested to sign up to receive them. DEP reminds residents and visitors to avoid coming into contact with algae and to stay out of the water where a visible bloom is present. Also, the public can report suspected algal blooms through the dashboard or directly.