Gov. Rick Scott signs emergency order on toxic algae

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott is issuing an emergency order to help counties affected by an algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee that’s sending the toxic, green slime to sensitive estuaries downstream.

The order Scott signed Monday will give the state environmental and tourism agencies more resources to respond to the problem.

Algae blooms in Lake Okeechobee have been a problem for years, fed by nutrients from cattle ranches and farms surrounding the country’s second largest natural freshwater lake.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers controls a dike system around the lake and releases water when lake levels get too high. The algae blooms deplete water of oxygen, hurting wildlife and tourism.

Scott’s order authorizes water releases south of the lake instead of down the rivers that empty into the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean.

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