Health alert for C-51 canal prompts concerns from residents

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Blue-green algae test results in Palm Beach County prompted a health alert Monday for portions of the C-51 canal.

Residents who enjoy being near the water are now worried about the health impacts.

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A woman named Lee, who only gave her first name, said she visits Spillway Park in Lake Worth Beach nearly every day to feed the animals.

“I’ve seen the algae here from time to time. Sometimes it gets really congested with it,” Lee said.

Lee, woman who feeds animals at Spillway Park in Lake Worth Beach

WPTV

Lee said she is concerned about the health of animals following the health alert for toxic algae.

Testing of the water in the C-51 canal near the spillway showed 16 parts per billion of microcystin, twice the limit considered potentially harmful.

“They live here and eat here. They don’t have any place else to go, and they have to have fresh water. If the water is not good water, they can get sick and die,” Lee said.

Out on nearby Lake Clarke, some people were fishing and jet skiing, like pro jet skier Chris Anyzeski.

“The algae will be tough going into the summer months,” Anyzeski said. “I try to stay in the big lakes where the water is moving. It’s definitely a huge concern.”

Chris Anyzeski, professional jet skier

WPTV

Professional jet skier Chris Anyzeski discusses the concerns related to toxic algae.

Anyzeski said the water appeared good in the lake. However, he said where smaller canals back up on homes, the algae is a problem.

“Back there you can see the algae in the water. It’s clear as day, definitely wouldn’t recommend swimming or eating anything there,” Anyzeski said

Where the algae comes from is often debated between Lake Okeechobee, which connects to the canals, and runoff of nutrients from subdivisions and farms.

The Army Corps of Engineers has said they do not release Lake Okeechobee water towards the C-51 canal to control lake water levels.

A spokesperson for South Florida Water Management District said only a small amount of water is released into the C-51 canal to maintain the water table.