Expert weighs in on what happens when algae dies — and it isn’t pretty

As bad as the massive algae bloom on the Treasure Coast is now, sometime in the coming days or weeks or months, it’s going to die. And when it does, the impact on flora and fauna will make the current disaster look like a tipped bait bucket by comparison.

That’s the prediction from a local professor who says even now the bloom already is blocking life-giving sunlight in the Indian River Lagoon and sending toxins up the food chain at a rate of as much as 10-fold per dinner.

Widespread algae chokes the St. Lucie River (Photo by Dorothy Dicks)
Widespread algae chokes the St. Lucie River (Photo by Dorothy Dicks)

» RELATED: Complete coverage of the algae bloom

The blanket of algae right now actually is generating oxygen, Bill Louda, a research professor at Florida Atlantic University’s chemistry department, said Thursday morning from Boca Raton.

But, he said, it also is blocking sunlight from reaching the entire water column. That kills algae and sea grass at the bottom. They rot. That makes them inedible to small marine animals, fish, turtles and manatees.

Read the full story on how the algae bloom’s death will impact marine life.

Horse bedding recycling firms seek locations in Palm Beach County

At least 11 firms have expressed interest in operating a horse bedding recycling business in Palm Beach County. But finding the right spot for such an operation has proved difficult.

The County Commission was set to discuss the issue during a zoning meeting today, but the discussion was postponed because Commissioner Melissa McKinlay’s return flight from Washington, D.C. was delayed. McKinlay, who was in Washington for a National Association of Counties conference and to discuss issues related to Lake Okeechobee, represents the western areas of the county where equestrian pursuits are popular.

PBC Commissioner Melissa McKinlay
PBC Commissioner Melissa McKinlay

In October, the Commission turned down a request to create a special zoning district where a horse bedding recycling facility could be operated.

That request had drawn concerns about the possibility of the facility being operated in the Agricultural Reserve, a farming zone located west of Boynton Beach and Delray Beach. The request did not include plans to operate a bedding recycling facility in the Agricultural Reserve.

Bedding recycling facilities could be located in areas of the county zoned for industrial businesses. But because of the possibility of foul odors, those locations aren’t deemed to be a good fit – hence the effort to find a more isolated spot in the county that can be re-zoned for a bedding recycling facility.

Much of the manure in the county is spread over lands owned by U.S. Sugar. But as the equestrian industry grows in the county, illegal dumping of manure is becoming more of a problem.

McKinlay has said she does not want to repeat the Commission’s October discussion. She said she does want the county to work toward a more permanent solution.

The Commission could discuss the issue at its next zoning meeting in March.