Lawmakers address toxic algae in St. Johns River

Andrea Conover said she enjoys the St. Johns River so much that two years ago, she picked up and moved to Palatka.
“I had been in Ponte Vedra Beach, and I decided I liked the inland's waterways better, and Putnam County is beautiful for natural resources,” Conover said.
She’s in the process of opening a brewery just blocks away from the water, and was disappointed in April to see algae covering the river.
Conover explained, “I think the shocking thing was that it was just so early.”
Action News Jax’s Beth Rousseau saw the slime for herself in April when she went out on the water and took a water sample.
Early in August, the Health Department posted signs in Palatka warning about toxic algae, which could be present even if it wasn't visible in the water.
The blooms can cause rashes, stomach illness and even neurological issues.
The signs were still on the docks Monday.
This week, state lawmakers held an open forum discussing ways to control the blooms and stop them from spreading north toward Jacksonville.


State Rep. Bobby Payne said families won’t see immediate changes, but they’re working to get added funding.
He explained, “Greater education on conservation issues, uses of water for all residents in the state.”
Local environmental leaders said they’re expanding water monitoring networks and adding inspections.
According to Conover, local families need to help out.
She said, “People just need to appreciate it more and think about what they’re doing.”
Lawmakers said they’ll be looking for local families’ input on the problem and possible solutions.

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