By: Lisa Broadt, Treasure Coast Newspapers
MARTIN COUNTY — To protect the public, officials need to better understand potential health effects of toxic blue-green algae, commissioners said Tuesday before voting unanimously to request research assistance from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Commissioners also voted to declare a state of local emergency, a step that allows the county to bypass some regulations and expedite water-protection and cleanup efforts, according to Administrator Taryn Kryzda.
Both actions were warranted because of "how large the problem is and how gigantic the solution must be," Chairman Ed Ciampi said at the 2½-hour special meeting attended by elected officials, state agency representatives and dozens of Martin County residents.
Algae blooms — a decades-long problem for the Treasure Coast — this year have polluted the St. Lucie River in Martin and St. Lucie counties and Blue Cypress Lake in Indian River County.
Over a two-day period in late July, Martin Health System reported, at least 15 people sought treatment for toxic-algae-related health problems, while several Stuart business owners said they have been forced to close their waterfront stores after algae blooms appeared to be making employees sick…