Water-Related News

What Is An Algae Bloom And What’s It Doing To Lake Minneola?

February 15, 2020 – By Michelle Delaney

Read this story in the South Lake Tablet and see photos of Lake Minneola's algae bloom

Lake Minneola by the new boat ramp (picture by Jack Kruse)

Do you know what an algae bloom is?

Algae bloom is a rapid accumulation of algae in freshwater. There are various factors that can cause algae bloom such as:

Stormwater Run-Off – precipitation falls, runs across hard surfaces such as rooftops, sidewalks and roads and carries pollutants, including nitrogen and phosphorus, into local waterways.

Wastewater (sewer and septic systems not operating properly), fertilizers, pet waste and certain soaps and detergents that contain nitrogen and phosphorus. All these can carry nutrients directly into our lakes and reservoirs.

Can algae bloom cause serious health problems?

The harmful effects of algae bloom is due to the toxins they produce from using up oxygen in the water. An algae bloom can affect the entire ecosystem. It can lead to fish die-offs.

Not all algae blooms are harmful, some only produce discoloring water, a smelly odor, and may add a bad taste to the water.

However, algae bloom can also produce serious health problems.

It can produce extremely dangerous toxins that can sicken people; kill pets/wildlife/fish; create dead zones in the water; raise treatment costs for drinking water; hurt industries that depend on clean water.

Algae bloom causes rashes, stomach or liver illness, respiratory problems, and neurological effects.

 Lake Minneola  algae bloom (Picture furnished by Cindy Davis)What’s Happening on Lake Minneola?

A few weeks ago, I began experiencing severe headaches, shortness of breath, runny nose and burning eyes. I thought I was developing an allergy. At first, I blamed my cats! Now I don’t think my cats are the problem…Sorry cats.

When I walk out my backdoor, I smell a strange earthy odor wafting off the lake. I can’t open my windows because my eyes and nose become even more irritated and my breathing more strained. Instead of gazing at the beautiful deep blue waters, I see murky green waters lapping on the shoreline. I’ve lived on Lake Minneola for nearly 50 years and know my lake. I’ve played, boated and swam in the beautiful, clean, clear lake and not once have I seen Lake Minneola in its present, unhealthy condition.

I spent 6 hours yesterday on the phone talking with Lake and State departments about algae bloom. My first call was to The Lake County Aquatic Plant Management Department. I was assured that the Imazamox that was recently sprayed on the lakefront was for water primrose, has been used for 5 years, and would not have caused an algae bloom. The next call I made was to the Lake County Health Department. I was told the lake’s water was not a problem they deal with. The Lake County Water Lab didn’t take ownership of the problem either. I was told The Lab has no way of detecting a toxin in the lake unless they know what to test for.

Finally some useful information – A call to the Florida Department of Environment Protection provided some useful information which I’m passing on to my readers. I encourage everyone to visit the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to learn more about algae blooms and report the location of an algae bloom. I found three algae blooms recently reported on Lake Minneola, there will be four reported once I complete my findings.

What Can Be Done To Help Save The Clermont Chain Of Lakes?

Everyone should be aware and protective of our ecosystem. It’s fragile.

The City of Clermont has a huge stake in the condition of the Clermont Chain of Lakes and needs to remain vigilant and actively involved in preserving the quality of the lakes. The city recently celebrated the opening of its new boat ramp on the southeast corner of Lake Minneola, Lake County Rowers Association has its boathouse on the southwest corner of the Lake. Sommer Sports bring thousands of athletes to swim/run and bike in and along the shoreline, and many activities are enjoyed at the Hiawatha Preserve, Victory Pointe, and Clermont Waterfront Park.

The Lake County Water Authority is meeting on February 26, 3:30 pm in the Board of County Commissioners Chambers in the Administration Building, 315 West Main Street, Tavares. Everyone who believes in keeping the quality of our lakes safe and healthy is encouraged to attend and request to have an independent lab take samples from Lake Minneola and try to figure out the source of the algae bloom.

 Lake Minneola (picture furnished by Steve Franklin, Clermont Chain of Lakes Boaters & Floaters)

Have you ever seen an algae bloom? Visit Lake Minneola and see it firsthand.

Resident and visitor reports are an important tool in helping DEP identify potential harmful algal blooms in public waters. Report a new algae bloom by clicking on this link: Algal Bloom Reporting Form