Algae bloom found in local waters

Posted at 6:12 PM, Aug 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-04 15:09:45-04

WAKULLA COUNTY (FL) -- The same dangerous algae making headlines across Florida right now is also impacting our local waters.

While the state has a plan to clean up the water, the community can help make a difference too.

"We have to be smart and wise. And if we want to have this springs behind me for our kids and our grandchildren, and look at all the people who are coming to enjoy it," said Sean McGlynn. "And if we want this to go on, we have to make an effort to be spring friendly in our lifestyles." 

McGlynn and his team have been researching what's changing the water quality of Wakulla Springs for more than three years.

They discovered high nitrate levels flow into the springs, affecting the water's color and health.

These nitrates come from pollutants from septic tank wastewater and fertilizers used in nearby cities. Over time, this pollution creates algae. In turn, changing the once clear water to a murky, green.

McGlynn and his team have found traces of the same algae causing serious environmental concerns in South Florida in Wakulla Springs.

It's not just spring water, but also nearby lakes and streams. 

"Algae comes out of the vent from all these other lakes in the springshed and rivers. We have to clean up the whole springshed to save Wakulla Springs. The septic tanks are ruining it right now," said McGlynn. 

McGlynn says, an immediate threat are the approximately 1.5 million pounds of nitrogen flowing into the spring from 12,000 septic tanks.

However, there's another problem.

"Everything in the springshed winds up in Wakulla Springs. From Lake Jackson, it takes about 30 days to get here. But it comes very quickly and it gets no treatment," said McGlynn. "So if you see an algae bloom in Lake Bunson, that's what's flowing in here." 

McGlynn is just one person among several environmental groups who wants local counties to put in and manage an advanced sewer and septic tank system.

Activists also want the state to address pollution from yard fertilizers and waters upstream.

McGlynn says there's too much algae in many local bodies of water to be saved. However, there's hope for Wakulla Springs. 

"They're way ahead of us. Our spring, we can save it. I mean, it is not too far gone," said McGlynn. 

McGlynn says there are things you can do to help reverse the harmful algae bloom in Wakulla Springs.

Installing your own updated septic tank and using smart agricultural practices on your yard can make a big difference.