Mayor offers help for Pahokee residents impacted by harmful algal bloom

Posted 5/1/21

PAHOKEE -- The cleanup of the toxic algal bloom at the Pahokee marina continues.

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Mayor offers help for Pahokee residents impacted by harmful algal bloom


PAHOKEE -- The cleanup of the toxic algal bloom at the Pahokee marina continues.

In a message shared on social media on Saturday, Pahokee Mayor Keith Babb Jr. said the city is working with Palm Beach County to offer resources for anyone who needs to temporarily relocate due to the odor from the toxic algal bloom.

Boat owners were asked to leave the marina last week.

“We have asked our boaters to relocate for the time being,” said Interim City Manager Jongelene Adams. “The toxins in the water can be a health hazard.”

Eighteen boats are currently docked in the marina, Adams said. Of those, seven boats are live-aboard. Only four of the live-aboard boats are occupied fulltime.

She said FDEP has checked to make sure the pump out system is currently functioning.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) sampled algae bloom on April 26. The sample returned positive for Microcystis aeruginosa, with a toxicity level of 860 micrograms/liter. The World Health Organization considers 8 micrograms/liter to be the safe limit for human recreational exposure to the microcystin toxin.

An April 30 report from the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management showed high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen

in the water at the marina.

Low (100 cfu) and medium (200 cfu) levels of E Coli bacteria were also found.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, "Acceptable levels of E. coli are measured in cfu (colony forming units) and commonly include both a 30 day mean (126 cfu/100mL) and a single sample number (235 cfu/100mL– 575 cfu/100mL).

Signs have been posted warning the public to stay away.

The public is encouraged to exercise caution in and around the marina.

Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that occur frequently in Florida’s freshwater environments, according to the Florida Department of Health.

A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors. Blooms may negatively impact fish and other aquatic animals.

Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and a plentiful supply of nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. some types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.  

Unfortunately, you cannot tell if bluegreen algae are producing toxins just by looking at a bloom. Blue-green algae blooms can impact your health. Direct contact or breathing airborne droplets (such as those created by pond/lake fountains or irrigation/sprinklers) containing high levels of algal toxins can cause irritation of the skin, eyes, nose and throat. Other symptoms include nausea and vomiting. There is not sufficient information available yet on potential long-term health impacts from exposure, but we are actively supporting research to find some of these answers.

Children, the elderly, and those who are immunocompromised may be at risk even at low concentrations and should avoid any exposure.

Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:

• Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there are toxic algae blooms.

• Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.

• Keep pets away from the area. Waters where there are algae blooms are not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.

• Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.

• Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.

• Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.

Find current information about Florida’s water quality status and public health notifications for harmful algal blooms and beach conditions by visiting

Report fish kills to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, call 1-800-636-0511.

Report symptoms from exposure to a harmful algal bloom or any aquatic toxin to the Florida Poison Information Center, call 1-800-222-1222 to speak to a poison specialist immediately.

Contact your veterinarian if you believe your pet has become ill after consuming or having contact with blue-green algae contaminated water.

If you have other health questions or concerns about blue-green algae blooms, please call the Florida Department of Health in Palm Beach County Communications Office at 561-671-4014 or go online to