• This Week in Palm Beach - July 20, 2018
  • Active-Shooter Training for Palm Beach Public Safety Conducted this Week
  • Civic Association Primary Candidates Meet & Greet Event
  • A New Kind of Phone Scam: Neighbor Spoofing
  • VIDEO & E-News: This Week in Palm Beach - July 13, 2018

 

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This Week in Palm Beach - July 20, 2018
Get the news that is important to you in This Week in Palm Beach. July 20, 2018 edition. Click Here To See Original Full E-Newsletter
Active-Shooter Training for Palm Beach Public Safety Conducted this Week
By: R. Michael Brown, Civic Association Communications Director -- As we get ready to kick off a new school year, first responders from the Town of Palm Beach trained this week for an active-shooter situation at Palm Beach Public School. It included police, firefighters, and paramedics.
Civic Association Primary Candidates Meet & Greet Event
The Palm Beach Civic Association is holding a Primary Candidates Meet & Greet Event on Monday, August 20, 2018, from 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM at the Meat Market in the Town of Palm Beach. 
A New Kind of Phone Scam: Neighbor Spoofing
Are you experiencing an increase in the number of local calls to your home and/or cell phone? You’re not alone. This phenomenon is called “neighbor spoofing” and it’s the latest caller ID spoof strategy being used by phone scam artists in an attempt to get people to answer the phone.
VIDEO & E-News: This Week in Palm Beach - July 13, 2018
Get the news that is important to you in This Week in Palm Beach. July 13, 2018 edition.
UPDATE: Town Phone/Internet Lines Back in Service
The Town of Palm Beach has experienced a major communication outage, which is affecting Town phones and email. Staff is actively working with our internet service provider to resolve this temporary outage. 911 services are still operable but the non-emergency line is down.
Council Approves $13.8 Million Rec Center in a 3-1 Vote
By Michele Dargan, Special for the Civic Association  --  After four hours of sometimes contentious discussion, the Town Council on Tuesday awarded the construction contract for the new recreation center to Hedrick Brothers by a 3-1 vote.
Town Council Coverage by the Civic Association
The Civic Association's feature writer Michele Dargan was at the Town Council this week.  Here's her summary of the major news.
Top Stories
This Week in Palm Beach - July 20, 2018
Posted by Stephan Nilson
Published: Friday, 20 July 2018 17:43

Get the news that is important to you in This Week in Palm Beach. July 20, 2018 edition.

Click Here To See Original Full E-Newsletter

This Week in Palm Beach - July 20, 2018To subscribe to This Week in Palm Beach and receive it in your inbox, CLICK HERE

 

 

 

 

Top Stories
Active-Shooter Training for Palm Beach Public Safety Conducted this Week
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Thursday, 19 July 2018 17:01

By: R. Michael Brown, Civic Association Communications Director -- As we get ready to kick off a new school year, first responders from the Town of Palm Beach trained this week for an active-shooter situation at Palm Beach Public School. It included police, firefighters, and paramedics.

“Before this week, not every officer was trained for a solo-response to an active-shooter in a school,” said Michael Ogrodnick, Palm Beach Police Training & Community Relations Coordinator. “This is what we are training for this week, along with training to get paramedics inserted into an active scene safely, and protect them, so they can do their work to save lives.”

Police Training 05AThe training day started with a call going out over police radios of an active shooter at the school with several casualties.

Individual police officers, picked for their turn to go through the training, were on the road doing their regular patrol, and were dispatched to the school. The officer pulled up to the school, put on their tactical gear including their helmet and additional vest from the trunk, grabbed their semi-automatic rifle, and entered the school without hesitating.

The officer is told on their radio that backup is on the way; but, they are to enter the school by themselves and engage the shooter(s).

Time is everything to save as many lives as possible and eliminate the threat.

Police Training 06AOfficers, pretending to be the active-shooters are dressed in protective gear and hiding in a classroom. They play a recording of gunfire from their hiding place.

Each responding officer doesn’t know where the shooter is or if there are multiple shooters. They also don’t know what scenario has been given to the shooters, give-up or attack the responding officer.

The solo officer quickly works their way towards the sound of the gunfire, using dynamic clearing of each area along the way to keep themselves protected. When they get to the gunfire they engage the shooter(s) first with non-lethal commands and tactics but if necessary, lethal force.

Both the active-shooters and responding officer have non-lethal simulation ammo. Yes, they really shoot at each other with what sounds like real bullets but in fact are simulation rounds that fire a plastic bullet that leaves a colored mark where it hits.

Police Training 02AOnce the initial threat is engaged, paramedics from Fire and Rescue enter the scene with ballistic vests and helmets, surrounded by police officers with guns drawn. They move to the victims, rescue dummies for training, and pull the victims into another classroom for triage and treatment.

Paramedics (in helmets) are led to the scene surrounded by officers.

They are told the injury on each victim and they perform treatment understanding they are in combat-like conditions.

Each officer goes through multiple scenarios and after each one, SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) instructors from Palm Beach Police debrief the officer. They break down what worked and what didn't and do it again.

After the training exercise for each officer, there are plastic bullets and fragments everywhere. They take this training seriously and it shows from the colored marks on their protective gear. Each mark was from a live round hitting the officer. Chilling when you think about the risk these officers face.

"This is an intense situation," said Training Officer Sgt. Scott Duquette. "We've had heart rate monitors on these officers and they're beating at 140 [beats-per-minute], in survival mode.  Our goal is to get their heart rate back down so they can think and act, and stop the threat with the appropriate level of force." 

Police Training 10A“I think the training this week went well,” said Officer Ogrodnick. “It’s eye-opening for some of our younger officers and reinforces some of the training we’ve given our older officers – and prepared that officer for that solo-response.”

“Now we’re ready,” he said. “The faster we have a well-armed police officer come in and address the shooter, the quicker that event is going to be over. We will continue to train, preparing for the worst and praying that we never have to use what we learned.”

Stay tuned to see our Civic Associatoin video feature story next week.

 

Top Stories
Civic Association Primary Candidates Meet & Greet Event
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Wednesday, 18 July 2018 12:32

The Palm Beach Civic Association is holding a Primary Candidates Meet & Greet Event on Monday, August 20, 2018, from 5:00 PM - 6:30 PM at the Meat Market in the Town of Palm Beach. 

As a 501c3 non-profit, the non-partisan Palm Beach Civic Association does not endorse candidates.  We strongly urge all Palm Beach residents to get out and vote!

Everyone is welcome and is open to the public. Come listen to candidates introduce themselves. This is a free event. 

Invited Participants are Candidates for:

  • U.S, and State Senate
  • Governor
  • Florida Attorney General
  • State Representative
  • County Commissioner
  • Judge
  • Port of Palm Beach Commissioner


Plus other candidates who represent voters from the Town of Palm Beach. 

 

Civic Association

Primary Candidates Meet & Greet Event

Monday, August 20, 2018

5:00 PM - 6:30 PM

Meat Market in the Town of Palm Beach
191 Bradley Place
Town of Palm Beach, FL 33820

Click Here to Register Online

 or

Call to Register for the Event

561-655-0820

 

Top Stories
A New Kind of Phone Scam: Neighbor Spoofing
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Tuesday, 17 July 2018 16:59

Are you experiencing an increase in the number of local calls to your home and/or cell phone? You’re not alone. This phenomenon is called “neighbor spoofing” and it’s the latest caller ID spoof strategy being used by phone scam artists in an attempt to get people to answer the phone.

For phone scams to be successful, scammers need people to pick up the phone so they can initiate the conversation. Neighbor spoofing uses a spoof caller ID to trick a person into thinking somebody local, possibly even someone they know, is calling. According to experts, this may interest someone just enough to answer their phone.

Area Code 561 in South Florida has a increasing problem with Neighbor Spoofing

Con artists and robocallers use technology to modify what phone numbers appear on caller ID, impersonating phone numbers from neighbors, friends, and local businesses to try to get you to answer the call. In many instances, it is a random number with the same area code and first three digits as your own phone number. In other cases, the number displays as coming from a local business or person in which you’ve previously communicated.

Answering one of these caller ID spoofed calls will indicate to the robocaller that you have an active phone line. Active phone lines are valuable to phone scammers and will often put you on what is referred to as a “sucker list,” potentially opening your phone line up to more scam calls.

Here are a few Better Business Bureau (BBB) tips to help identify and handle “neighbor spoofing” phone calls:

  • Avoid answering calls from phone numbers you don’t recognize, even if they appear to be local. If it’s important, the caller will leave a message.
  • If your own phone number is used in a caller ID spoof call, you may receive calls and messages from people asking why you called them in the first place. This can lead to a lot of confusion between the two parties, but knowing your own number can be used by scammers may help explain the situation.
  • Be aware that phone numbers of local businesses, including doctor’s offices and/or insurance agents, may appear to be calling you. If you’re not certain whether the call is legitimate or a spoof, hang up and dial the known phone number for the contact to verify the communication, especially if personal and/or financial information is being requested.
  • There are call blocking apps that may help decrease the amount of spam calls, including those using a spoof caller ID. Your phone carrier may also provide a similar service or offer advice.
  • Make sure your phone number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. Though it is unlikely to prevent most phone scam calls, it will help to reduce calls received from legitimate telemarketers, which can be helpful in screening fraudulent calls.

For more information on nuisance calls, contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and report phone scam calls to:

BBB Scam Tracker.

 Article provided by the Better Business Bureau

 

Top Stories
VIDEO & E-News: This Week in Palm Beach - July 13, 2018
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Friday, 13 July 2018 11:10

Get the news that is important to you in This Week in Palm Beach. July 13, 2018 edition.

ThisWeekInPalmBeach20180713 600AwClick Here To See Original Full E-Newsletter

To subscribe to This Week in Palm Beach and receive it in your inbox,  CLICK HERE

Public Safety
UPDATE: Town Phone/Internet Lines Back in Service
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Friday, 13 July 2018 08:04

The Town of Palm Beach has experienced a major communication outage, which is affecting Town phones and email. Staff is actively working with our internet service provider to resolve this temporary outage. 911 services are still operable but the non-emergency line is down.

A main ATT Line was accidentaly cut at Royal Palm Way and Cocoanut Row.  The town, residences, and businesses are impacted.

Deputy Town Manager Jay Boodheshwar and Charles Kapachinski, the town’s IT director, with town police and an AT&T representative, were on the scene at Royal Palm Way where the accidental cut happened. They estimated at about 3:30 p.m. Thursday that the problem could take 24 hours to repair.

The Town's website and alert system is still working.

Latest Info (Town of Palm Beach)

Top Stories
Council Approves $13.8 Million Rec Center in a 3-1 Vote
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Thursday, 12 July 2018 13:24

By Michele Dargan, Special for the Civic Association  --  After four hours of sometimes contentious discussion, the Town Council on Tuesday awarded the construction contract for the new recreation center to Hedrick Brothers by a 3-1 vote.

The guaranteed maximum price for work performed by Hedrick Brothers Construction is $11.6 million with the overall project budget being $13.8 million.

Councilwoman Julie Araskog cast the dissenting vote. Council President Danielle Moore, Councilwoman Maggie Zeidman and Councilwoman Bobbie Lindsay voted in favor.

Councilman Lew Crampton recused himself from voting because he is president of the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium and Dale Hedrick, founder and president of Hedrick Brothers Construction, is on the board.

“Dale has nothing to do with my compensation,” Mr. Crampton said. “I’m confident I can vote on this without any bias. However, out of an abundance of caution, I’m going to recuse myself from this vote.”

The new Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center will be funded by a private/public partnership with the Morton and Barbara Mandel Foundation, the Friends of Recreation and the town. They will split the total cost three ways, each paying $4.6 million.

The council ratified the amended Friends of Recreation (FOR) agreement to reflect their portion as being $4.6 million.

Michael Ainslie, vice-chairman of FOR, said the group has raised $4.6 million from more than 100 families in town. They have $2.6 million in cash and $1.8 million in pledges. Donations range from $750,000 to $1,000 per person or organization.

Mr. Ainslie noted that, if passed, the project would be two-thirds funded by private donations of $9.2 million, making it an historic day.

“Palm Beach will be the envy of towns across America, seeing its citizens so committed to its future well-being,” Mr. Ainslie said. “To raise $4.6 million before a shovel has turned is stunning.”

At last month’s council meeting, Ms. Araskog said she wasn’t comfortable approving the project without having all the pledges from FOR on hand or having some type of legal assurance that would secure the pledges.

Mr. Ainslie said they will have all of the $4.6 million in their account at Northern Trust Bank by Wednesday, because they have borrowed the money up front for the donor pledges. The interest per month on that loan is about $8,000 to $9,000 a month, he said.

“We thank you and should give you extra credit for what you’ve done for this project,” Mr. Crampton said.

Mr. Ainslie thanked a list of people and businesses who have helped FOR along the way, including FOR Chairman Matthew Smith and the Mandels.

“Deputy Town Manager Jay Boodheshwar outlined the scope of work that Hedrick Brothers will perform, including: the demolition and reconstruction of the recreation center, the multi-purpose field, the playground, the outdoor basketball court, the elimination of the tennis pavilion structure, a new playground pavilion structure, a new tennis hitting wall, an entry arch and renovations to the tennis pro shop and maintenance storage building.”

The project would increase the building footprint from 11,000 square feet to 15,000 square feet, Mr. Boodheshwar said.

“Our guaranteed price includes everything,” Mr. Hedrick said. “If we don’t spend the money, you get it back.”

Over the course of the four-hour meeting, Ms. Araskog voiced concerns that included the size and scope of the project and that the council hasn’t worked as well with the residents as it could have. She was also concerned about the project coming up for approval during the summer months when many residents are gone and that the plans are not going to ARCOM before getting approval from the Town Council.

Paul Castro, zoning administrator, said that – ultimately – the Town Council has the final decision.

Ms. Araskog also wanted to receive confirmation that the full amount of $4.6 million was FOR’s bank account on Wednesday.

Mayor Gail Coniglio pointed out that the reason the project has been delayed for a year is because of a lawsuit filed against the town by people who were against the project.

“We’re here today because of the year delay of the litigation,” Mayor Coniglio said. “It has cost this project $96,000 in litigation cost, plus an additional 20 percent more in construction costs, based on the fact that construction costs have gone up.”

Mayor Coniglio said that the funding distribution for each of the three parties went from $3.7 million to $4.6 million because of the delay in construction and cost increases. If the council had not approved this project, then the town would have been obligated to pay back the up-front cost given by the donors, which totaled $1 million, and the town would have gotten nothing in return.  

Four residents spoke against the project. Concerns included the fact that the demographic of Palm Beach is older and much of the project is geared toward children and that the project is too large.

Resident Peggy Moore said she thinks the project is too big. She said the tennis is important, but the project doesn’t need the game room, the pro shop, or the snack shop.

“We just want things done in good taste,” she said. “We don’t glitter it up. … We have fewer children here than five years ago. West Palm Beach is for the younger. Let them have the rec center there.”

Mayor Coniglio said, “We need to keep the town vital for the future. To me, it’s important we improve our cultural and recreational opportunities for families. We have donors who are deep in the community. I think the Friends of Recreation has done a phenomenal job.”

 

Top Stories
Town Council Coverage by the Civic Association
Posted by R. Michael Brown
Published: Thursday, 12 July 2018 11:22

The Civic Association's feature writer Michele Dargan was at the Town Council this week.  Here's her summary of the major news.

Mayor’s Recognition of the $25 Million in Federal Money for Midtown Beach Restoration 

Mayor Gail Coniglio recognized the $25 million in federal money that the town will receive for the restoration of Midtown Beach. The town was notified last week that the money had been approved.

She thanked Gov. Rick Scott for his guidance in helping her navigate the channels that helped secure the funding.
Mayor Coniglio said that she and Coastal Coordinator Rob Weber made two trips to Washington, D. C. to meet with Florida Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson and Congresswoman Lois Frankel. They were instrumental in helping to facilitate this, she said.

She also said Gov. Scott was instrumental in helping the town receive $4 million for the repair and replacement of the jettys that flank each side of the inlet.

Noah Valenstein, secretary of Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection, attended Tuesday’s council meeting.

“On behalf of Gov. Scott, thank you back to each of you,” he said. “Together we work together to achieve things for the environment so that you can have the community you envision 50 or 100 years down the road.”

Town Employee Compensation & Benefit Study Approved

The Town Council unanimously approved an updated scope of services and evaluation criteria, which will be used to develop a Request for Proposals (RFP) to hire a consultant to complete a comprehensive Compensation and Benefits Study. The study will compare the Town of Palm Beach compensation package to what other area municipality and county governments are paying all of their employees, including police, fire, and general government employees.

Update on Royal Poinciana Playhouse and Restaurant

Alexandra Patterson of Up Markets told the Town Council they have signed a letter of intent and are negotiating a lease with an operator to run the restaurant in the Royal Poinciana Playhouse.

Ms. Patterson said they have also had positive conversations with three potential operators and 20 potential partnerships to run the theater, which will be cultural arts venue. The playhouse has been closed since 2004.

Up Markets will not go forward with the restaurant and will not name the restaurant operator until they have a lease agreement with an operator to run the theater, she said.

“We see this building serving the Palm Beach community and beyond,” she said. “It will be a flexible cultural arts venue with art, film, live theater ted talks, comedy shows, jazz nights, musical performances, ballet, opera … a wide variety that keeps the doors open and the lights on for 365 days a year.”

Councilman Lew Crampton said, “I think the Town Council needs more specifics in order to come in on the side of this project more robustly. Clearly that may be the nicest spot in town for a restaurant, but that needs to proceed in tandem with the solution for the theater.”

 

By Michele Dargan, Special Report from the Civic Association.

When foul-smelling blue-green algae coated Treasure Coast waterways just days before the Fourth of July holiday, Florida officials scrambled to respond.

Although the slime surfaced in parts of Palm Beach County, including the island, it wasn’t close to the magnitude suffered by Martin and St. Lucie counties.

State and federal officials scrambled trying to rectify the situation.

The algae in Palm Beach was seen from the south end of town to the Lake Worth Inlet, said Deputy Town Manager Jay Boodheshwar.

“The highest concentrations were in the Ibis Isle/Sloans Curve area, which is in close approximation to C-51 canal discharge point,” Mr. Boodheshwar said.

Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency in four counties, including Palm Beach, and the Army Corps of Engineers decreased the flow of water out of Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries to try and stop the spread of the algae blooms, which thrive in fresh water containing nutrients phosphorous and nitrogen.

This year was the perfect storm for a widespread bloom to occur, scientists say. Large amounts of winter and spring rain combined with the nutrients in the lake formed blooms; while, at the same time, the water rose so high from the rain that the water needed to be released in order to prevent the dike from bursting.

Last weekend, the Corps further reduced the amount of water flowing from Lake Okeechobee.

Image: Blue-green algae polluting waters up and down the Florida coasts.

BLUE GREEN ALGAE 600

“As a result of water releases, drier conditions and decreased inflows, the lake level has started to recede,” Col. Jason Kirk, the Corps Jacksonville district commander said in a statement. "Although the lake is still high for this time of year, current conditions are providing us with the opportunity to further reduce discharges and bring some degree of relief to the estuaries experiencing above normal seasonal algal blooms."

The Corps must keep water levels in the lake down, while it continues to reinforce areas of the aging 143-mile aging Herbert Hoover Dike surrounding Lake Okeechobee. Since 2007, the Corps has spent more than $500 million in improvements to prevent the dike from bursting, according to the Corps’ website.

The South Florida Water Management District authorized storing additional water in the Upper Kissimmee Chain of Lakes north of the lake and in Florida Power and Light’s cooling pond at the Martin Clean Energy Center.

Last weekend, the Corps further reduced the amount of water flowing from Lake Okeechobee.

Susan Gray, an ecologist with the South Florida Water Management District, said algae blooms remain in Lake Okeechobee and the St. Lucie Estuary. There are small patches of algae - off and on - in the Lake Worth Lagoon, she said.

 “The initial bloom in the lake was 33 square miles and now it’s about a hundred square miles, but it’s patchy and streaky now as opposed to a continuous mass,” she said. “On a body of water as large as Lake Okeechobee you can’t treat it or move it around. If this is the type producing toxins and you break it up, it releases toxins into the water.”

Measurements from the algae in Palm Beach County show little or no toxins, she said.

The Lake Worth Lagoon is less likely to see an algae breakout of a large magnitude because the lagoon has “more tidal exchange” and less amounts of freshwater coming into it, Ms. Gray said. 

Lisa Interlandi, a senior staff attorney with the Everglades Law Center, spoke at the July 12 meeting of the Palm Beach Town Council.  

Ms. Interlandi asked the council to draft a resolution that would move up the timetable for building a water storage facility south of Lake Okeechobee.

Council members directed staff to work on a resolution that would be ready for review at the August meeting.

Peter Antonacci, executive director of the South Florida Water Management District, also spoke at the council meeting.

“There’s no silver bullet,” he said.

Many factors, including the amount of nutrients in the water, the rate of water flow into the estuaries, and the hot weather, contribute to outbreaks of algae blooms, Mr. Antonacci said.

The district owns 105,000 acres of land north of the lake, but is waiting for agreements to be inked to determine a schedule for building reservoirs, he said

The district has a schedule of approximately 50 different projects that will help with keeping Florida’s waterways clean, but it will take anywhere from 25 to 50 years and cost $8 to 12 billion, Mr. Antonacci said.  

Gaston Cantenz, vice president of corporate relations for Florida Crystals, responded to environmentalists who are calling for the state to buy more land, south of the lake, in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). Since the mid-1990’s, 107,000 acres of farmland in the EAA have been acquired for Everglades restoration, Cantenz said.

“We just lost 42,000 acres three short years ago,” Cantenz said. “Now they want 15 percent of the entire farming basin on top of the 107,000 we’ve already lost. Two sugar mills have already shutdown over that time and those jobs and that economic activity in the Glades region has been lost.”

There are five storm water treatment areas that are operational in the Everglades Agricultural Area and are built on former farmland, Mr. Cantenz said. Those areas have treated more than 16 million acre-feet of water and reduced phosphorous in the water by more than 80 percent, according to the South Florida Water Management newsletter.

In 2014, there was a breakout of algae blooms without any water releases from Lake Okeechobee, according to a June 2016 fact sheet from the South Florida Water Management District.

“The nutrients and fresh water that can fuel growth of naturally occurring blue-green algae also comes from local storm water runoff and septic tanks,” according to the district’s fact sheet.

Mr. Cantenz pointed to information from Martin County’s Comprehensive Plan, which cited a 2013 breakout of algae blooms in the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon and attributed it to – in part – “on-site sewage treatment and disposal systems.”

Gov. Scott has proposed new funding for a 50/50 matching grant program for communities that are affected by the algae blooms. If approved by the legislature for the 2017-2018 budget, the voluntary program will provide half the funding to residents who agree to change from septic tanks to sewer systems and the state will pay the other half.

Image: SFWMD Everglades Projects

SFWMD EVERGLADES PROJECTS

There are an estimated 300,000 residential septic tanks along the Indian River Lagoon, said Brian LaPointe, an environmental scientist with Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute in Fort Pierce.

“Ninety-six percent of the water coming into Lake Okeechobee comes from the north,” Mr. LaPointe said. “The watershed from Lake Okeechobee reaches all the way up to Orlando and water flows downhill. Major rainfall transports the nutrients from urban areas and farms to the lake.

“In May, when we began to see the green algae form blooms in Lake Okeechobee and the water levels were very high, the Army Corps had to release water into the estuary,” Mr. LaPointe said. “As the water moves into the estuary, the bloom continues to grow. It can double its biomass in less than a day if the nutrients are there.”

Most of the solutions need to be done long term, he said.

“We must clean up the nutrients at the source and we need more water storage both north and south of Lake Okeechobee so we won’t have to release so much water,” Mr. LaPointe said. “A lot of these are big projects that are underway and some are awaiting funding from the federal government.”

Eric Eikenberg, CEO of the Everglades Foundation, said he spent three days visiting with local officials and members of the business community in Martin County.

“This is our Flint Michigan,” Mr. Eikenberg said, referring to Flint’s polluted drinking water. “It’s heartbreaking to actually see the toxic algae in the marinas. What’s most impactful is the smell – it literally takes your breath away. The people working in the marinas are all wearing industrial masks. It’s a health hazard, an ecological disaster and an economic hit. It has to stop. How many more outbreaks do we have to tolerate?”

Four projects from the Central Everglades Planning Project are part of the solution, he said. Building a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is one of those projects, Mr. Eikenberg said.

The four projects will connect Lake Okeechobee to the Florida Keys, clean up the water and significantly reduce the amount of water that goes east and west, he said.

“There’s no solution to stop the damage you’re seeing today, but if we don’t start on these projects, it’s going to be another 15 to 20 years. People are tired of toxic algae ruining their real estate and impacting tourism. The lake continues to fill and we’re in the middle of the rainy season and God forbid if we get a hurricane that goes over Lake Okeechobee.”

All sides agree that moving forward with Everglades restoration is the solution, but it won’t be solved in the short term.

According to the South Florida Water Management District:

The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) is a 50-50 cost sharing between Florida and the federal government. To date, the federal government has spent approximately $1.1 billion on design and construction of CERP projects; while the state has outspent the federal government by investing approximately $2 billion in land acquisition, project design, and construction. As federal funding has lagged, the district has stepped in to expedite construction of key projects. Congress could expedite completion of authorized CERP projects by appropriating enough money to erase the difference between state and federal CERP spending.

 Fast Facts on Blue Green Algae

  •  Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, can multiply in rivers, lakes and canals. An overabundance of nitrogen and phosphorous create algae blooms.
  • Algae blooms are most common in the summer when growth conditions are ideal - the water is warm and the weather is calm.

  • The nutrients and fresh water that can fuel growth of naturally occurring blue-green algae also comes from local storm water runoff and septic tanks. Algae blooms have occurred in past years, such as 2014 when there were no lake releases.
  • Many cyanobacteria species are capable of producing harmful toxins. Cyanobacteria can cause taste and odor problems in public water supplies and can kill domestic animals, pets, and fish and wildlife that drink or are otherwise exposed to untreated contaminated water or toxic biota.

  • Although a major focus for public health officials is cyanotoxins in drinking water supplies, increased concern for the possible risk for human illness through recreational exposure is on the rise.

  • There is no effective large scale treatment method that exists to remove blue green algae blooms. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission does not recommend any form of treatment because it may release toxins.

  • No proven connection has been found between cyanobacteria and neurodegenerative disease.

  • The South Florida Water Management District is holding more water in the Upper Chain of Lakes north of Lake Okeechobee. The district took extraordinary measures to decrease lake releases, including storing billions of gallons of lake water in the A-1 Flow Equalization Basin.

  • The district advises the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, but the Corps is solely responsible for authorizing and conducting lake releases to coastal estuaries for flood protections.

Source: Florida Fish and Wildlife, South Florida Water Management District, Florida Department of Health and Florida Department of Environmental Protection.


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