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Smelly muck on Snead Island thanks to runoff, nature, and Piney Point, officials say

Dr. Scott Hopes says the smelly blue algae showing up on Sneads Island is not due to Piney Point
Dr. Scott Hopes says the smelly blue algae showing up on Sneads Island is not due to Piney Point(WWSB)
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 8:41 PM EDT
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SNEAD ISLAND, Fla. (WWSB) - Manatee County officials have determined several factors are at play behind the unpleasant odor and unsightly muck in the waters around Snead Island.

The blue algae, according to officials from the Sarasota Bay Estuary, is called Lyngbya, a type of blue-green algae. Experts there tell ABC7 they’re seeing it on Anna Maria Island as well. They also predicted that the algae could be caused by toxic wastewater from Piney Point.

Tuesday, Dr. Scott Hopes, forwarded a statement from Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County’s director of parks and natural resources, saying that Piney Point is not solely responsible for the algae. This is a combination of Mother Nature, runoff and Piney Point discharge.

“Piney Point is a contributor to the problem,” Hunsicker said. “It can not be singled out as the sole responsibility and the problem we have today.”

Hunsicker went on to address the concerns of foul odor in the area.

“Reports of the presence of wastewater around the shores of Snead Island are incorrect. There are odors present from the biological decomposition of floating algae stranded along the shore generating sulfur-rotten egg odor. Sun-dried algae mats suspended from mangrove roots and dock pilings take on the appearance of soiled tissue paper,” explained Hunsicker. “Manatee Utilities have not experienced any releases from our collection systems or treatment plants north of the river. I was able to reach the City of Palmetto Mayor to confirm that the City of Palmetto’s AWT wastewater treatment plant located on Terra Ceia Bay also reports no treatment malfunctions and has not discharged treated effluent to bay-receiving waters in months.”

No matter the origin, scientists warn that Lyngbya is still a concern.

“When it decomposes in large abundances, then it will use up all the oxygen in the water and that can cause fish kills,” said Sarasota Bay Estuary Program Executive Director Dr. David Tomasko.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story stated that Manatee County officials were not blaming Piney Point for the blue algae. That has since been updated.

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