(WSVN) - Toxic algae has been popping up in Fort Lauderdale waterways, but now tests are showing the city may have a bigger problem on its hands. 7’s Brandon Beyer reports on this potential “Tide of Trouble.”
Fort Lauderdale is known as the Venice of Florida — miles and miles of canals and waterways filled with boats.
But it’s what’s in the water that has one city commissioner concerned.
Dean Trantalis, Fort Lauderdale commissioner: “We have an underlying problem, and that problem is serious waterway contamination.”
We first told you about the problem last November when toxic algae was found in canals off Las Olas.
Commissioner Trantalis was concerned the algae was feeding off raw sewage leaking from failing and outdated sewer pipes.
So he pressed the county to test the water.
Dean Trantalis: “They came back to us with an independent analysis saying we have very high levels of contamination within our waterways.”
But despite the results, the city has not issued any warnings to residents about the human waste in their waterways.
Such warnings are routinely issued for beaches because fecal matter can cause upset stomach, diarrhea, eye irritation and skin rashes.
So why aren’t similar warnings coming for local canals?
Dr. Jennifer Jurado, Broward County: “If we were to find consistently that the enterococci counts were consistently above the state’s threshold, we should be concerned.”
The county did have levels above the state standard in September and October, which the commissioner says shows a consistent problem.
But for whatever reason, the testing stopped.
So in January, we had Florida Spectrum Environmental Services retest all five sites.
Three were still showing human waste contamination.
Lyle Johnson, Florida Spectrum: “We found elevated levels of enterococci, and we found some elevated ammonia and fecal chloroforms in the others.”
Chemist Lyle Johnson says the levels still exceeded the state standard.
Lyle Johnson: “We need to monitor more, we need to do more to protect our beaches and our waterways.”
Commissioner Trantalis thinks the county has to do more to find out where the contamination is coming from and, at the very least, warn residents and visitors.
Dean Trantalis: “It’s a health hazard. Their pets can get sick, their children and even themselves if they fall on the canal.”
He says he will push for more testing this spring.
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