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We done been slimed

August 10, 2018
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze


Back in the era of the Nickelodeon children's TV show, the highlight of the show was someone getting slimed. This seemed to be highly desired, something they laughed at immensely. Nowa-days it's a very serious problem in our community. There are many articles published about our problem, and at a Cape Coral community gathering last Tuesday, Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds told the crowd, hurricanes aren't the only disaster - this is a disaster - meaning the algae sludge in the canals. It has been brought about by last year's Hurricane Irma. She told us, "There is no funding to move Lake Okeechobee water south for the time being, which is our least worst option."

The blue-green algae has thickened in our canals, emitting foul odors and killing marine mammals and life, littering our scenic shoreline. Dead fish and animals on our shorelines have put a real damper on our scenery and air aroma. This isn't helping our tourism economy, our biggest financial asset. Homes on the water aren't selling, tourists are going elsewhere, respiratory health problems are enveloping us.

I remember the movie back in 2000, "Erin Brockovich" starring Julia Roberts. Erin is an environmental activist that famously brought down the Pacific Gas and Electric Company in the California Hinckley groundwater contamination case, in 1993. Erin has been all over Facebook lately. She's mad and on a rampage, over Southwest Florida officials and their inactivity in the algae situation. It seems we are a very colorful state with our red tide and green algae, and it's not even Christmas.

According to TV station WBBH, and Erin posted it on her page, a dead manatee was towed to the Cape Coral dock Tuesday, July 31. The irony of this is, it was during a meeting there of the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers discussing the toxic releases from Lake Okeechobee. Her words could be described as profanity (mild). Have we re-opened the floodgates to hell, as she implies?

I'm sure this is not new news to anyone, but it needs a thorough investigation. Our entire future is at stake here, not just for the present time but the forward future. The coast of South-west Florida is being invaded and there is not enough attention given to it to help us get action.

Red tide is a higher-than-normal concentration of microscopic algae, when massed to a bloom degree, it produces toxic chemicals, the organism, K. brevis, that attacks the central nervous system of fish and other vertebrates, causing death. While toxins released into the air causes respiratory irritation. The blue-green algae (cyan-obacteria) like red tide grows and accumulates into these blooms when environmental conditions, light and temperature are right. Such contamination can cause nausea, vomiting and even acute liver failure if ingested.

On July 9, Gov. Scott issued an emergency order to combat algae blooms in affected counties, including Lee. They proclaimed that it is due to discharges from Lake Okeechobee by the Army Corps of Engineers. The Corps met in Cape Coral on July 27 with a concerned group of citizens to answer any questions the public might have. It was a very frustrating meeting, especially with a dead manatee near the dock there at the same time. Since there is no funding to move Lake Okeechobee waters south for the present, the natural way nature intended it to do and it use to do, now, moving it east and west is the "least worst" option they were told.

So, fasten your seat belts for a bumpy ride, Erin Brockovich is watching guard.

Just read an article about the water pollution telling us to look back 8 years to when Gov. Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam and Attorney General Pam Bondi fought against stricter limits for pollution as we are now seeing. They complained that setting pollution limits to sewage, manure and fertilizer runoff would be an "onerous regulation" by an "overbearing federal government." What EPA was proposing was modest, but monied interest groups were applying heavy pressure in Washington to get EPA to back off. In other words, we have done this to ourselves.

If on Wednesday, this past week, you noticed an orange, hazy glow to the sky, there is a layer of Saharan dust blowing in the wind. It supposedly reduced our chances of any rain but was supposed to give us spectacularly, beautiful sunsets. The tiny dust particles were suspended high up in the atmosphere and not believed to give us any problems. The fires raging in California are another climate issue. Florida has never been immune from fires here when we are dry. 18 major fires burning in California and the historically worst months are yet to come. Water, land and air pollution, one wonders how soon will Armageddon come? Are we killing ourselves off?

On a cheerier note, I turn to Mr. Roger's garden of your mind. "Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind? It's good to be curious about many things. You can think about things and make believe, all you have to do is think and they will grow.

Imagine every person that you see is somewhat different from every other person in the world. Some can do somethings, some can do others. Did you ever think about many things you learned to do? Did you ever grow anything in the garden of your mind. It's good to be curious about many things."

Thank a tree that is growing for its contribution to your wellbeing. It takes in the bad air and gives off good air, oxygen. We are blessed when we live around trees.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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