CT couple upset over foul-smelling blue-green algae at FL home

WFSB | By Eva Zymaris, Olivia Lan

A Connecticut couple decided to sell their businesses and make their move down to the sunshine state last year.

But, life in Florida these past few weeks has been no walk on the beach.

Blue-green algae is once again plaguing the water-ways in south Florida including, Cape Coral where they live now.

The couple told Channel 3 they feel helpless waiting for this problem to be fixed.

“I don’t have an overall plan. I just know, I don’t want to keep living like this,” said Sally Mullins.

Sally Mullins said she and her husband James have been feeling like prisoners in their own home.

“I can’t go for a walk because all of the canals around here stinks, I can’t go for a bike ride, I can’t go outside,” said Mullins.

The Mullins moved down to Florida last year after living in Granby for decades.

The blue-green algae has overtaken the canal behind their house in Cape Coral.

It’s not only unpleasant to look at, but Mullins says it smells.

“A huge pig farm on a hot, hot sunny day. That you kind of fell into and couldn’t get out,” said Mullins.

The problem starts with Lake Okeechobee.

This lake is about 40 to 50 percent covered with blue-green algae bloom.

“Because that’s also used for flood control, the Army Corps is releasing water from that. So, we’re seeing that water being released downstream and headed out to the coast,” said Dr. Diane Mas of Fuss & O’Neill in Manchester.

Mas is an associate with the Water Resources and Natural Resources Department.

“There’s always some amount of algae growth in every lake. But what we see, when we see these blooms, is that growth accelerated and out of control if you will,” Mas said.

These blooms are often seen in calm water, especially, when the weather is warm, making the summer the perfect season for them to grow quickly.

“The blooms have not only the public health risk that you can’t see, but they also have environmental risks as well in that they deplete oxygen from the water and they also have a rotten egg, rusty smell that’s pretty characteristic,” said Mas.

Mas says blue-green algae can create toxins that can be bad for both us and our furry friends.

These toxins can be harmful to the liver and the nervous system, as well as cause rashes.

“There’s also some question about long-term exposure to toxins over time,” said Mas.

These blooms have a cycle of growth and decay, but, what can be done now?

“What we can do to limit runoff that is elevated in nutrients,” said Mas,

There are also options for treatment.

But, Mas says those have other environmental effects.

A series of public meetings were scheduled down in Florida for the public to learn more about what’s going on.

Mullins is just hoping the problem is fixed sooner rather than later.

She is planning to return to Connecticut next week to stay with family, while her husband stays in Florida.

To learn more about blue-green algae and ways to protect yourself, click here.

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