Jupiter rally draws more than 100 demanding fix to algae problem

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Maggy Hurchalla, (right) tells listeners at Jupiter’s Carlin Park on Friday that algae bloom is “Florida’s Flint, Michigan.” (Photo by Bill DiPaolo)

Toting signs and chanting “clean water now,” more than 100 people braved scorching temperatures Friday afternoon in Jupiter to demand action to cleanup the algae blooms that started in Martin County two weeks ago.

“Palm Beach County, the algae is headed your way,” environmentalist and former Martin County Commissioner Maggy Hurchalla told the crowd at Carlin Park on A1A.

The massive algae bloom floating in Lake Okeechobee has grown substantially over the past month, and some environmentalists now estimate the blue-green slime covers more than a quarter of the lake’s surface.

Stephen Davis, a wetland ecologist for the Everglades Foundation, on Friday said the lake’s algae bloom measures roughly 200 square miles — a 500 percent increase from May, when the bloom was measured at 33 square miles.

Many signed a petition calling for the purchase of vacant land south of Lake Okeechobee they say would be used to stop nutrient-rich discharges from the lake into the Calossahatchee and St. Lucie rivers.

The discharges create a salinity imblance that are destroying ecosystems in Florida Bay, Everglades national Park and the Florida Keys, according to supporters of the land purchase.

“The land would be used to stores, clean and convey the water. We would not send dirty water to anyone,” said Kenny Hinkle, Jr., a representative of bullsugar.org, an organization that advocates the land purchase.

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