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How Florida's Toxic Algae is Choking the Economy And The Environment

Jul 19, 2016 08:41 AM EDT
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Since early this month, Florida's toxic algae problem has plagued the state. The horrific stench from the green algae has been a nightmare not only to the environment, but to business owners too.

The Florida Horror: Who's to Blame?

To explain the gravity of the situation, Phys.org said the toxic algae originated from cattle ranches and farms from the north. The impending disaster is not a one-time thing; in fact, the problem has been building up over decades and no quick-fix could resolve it.

Environmentalists blame overdevelopment and not prohibiting farms and other cities to reduce its phosphorus production for the recovery of Lake Okeechobee. This is the lake where the toxic algae bloomed before it was discharged to the ocean through the estuaries, reported the Orlando Sentinel.

Gov. Rick Scott pointed fingers, blaming the Obama administration for not fixing the dike surrounding the infected lake. However, Eric Draper from Audobon of Florida said the algae problem is "not a federal responsibility, [but rather] a state responsibility."

Greens Only in Algae, Not in Dollar Bills

According to NBC News, the green toxic algae is not only destroying Florida waters, but also the economy.

The toxic algal bloom has been driving away tourists from beaches in Treasure Coast to Palm Beach County, damaging the heavily tourist-dependent economy.

Even though it's peak season for Florida, businesses have been forced to shut down.

"Obviously the headlines that say, 'South Florida covered in green algae' have an impact in a negative way," said Erick Gill, a public information officer from Saint Lucie County.

It is not only Florida experiencing the devastating hit on economy. Last year, the crab and clam industry in the West Coast had to be closed due to toxins from the biggest algal bloom in Central California to British Columbia.

Bobby Bowers, senior vice president of operations of STR which offers hotel information analytics, said the current numbers are not that bad. However, there is a significant lost from the previous year, as hotel rates fell 18 percent compared from the past year.

In Palm Beach County, for instance, tourists have been canceling booked accommodations and calling to gauge the effect of the algae in the county.

Aside from the tourism and hotel industry, industries associated to fishing, chartered boats and recreational water sports have also reported damages in their revenues.

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