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Keith Williams, with Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr in Fort Lauderdale.

The outbreaks of red tide and blue-green algae this summer and into fall had a disruptive effect on the chief economic engine of Florida’s economy—tourism. That means the people of each Florida county, coastal or not, will suffer either directly or indirectly with a significant reduction in tourism revenues caused by these ecological disasters. Additionally, there is a public health crisis caused by the fumes, odors and excess organic matter floating in our waters, not to mention the negative visual aspect of dead fish, dead manatees and other sea life that are harmed by these prolonged bacterial and algal outbreaks on our shores. While these outbreaks are a naturally occurring phenomena, they appear to worsen each time they appear. That aspect of these bacterial and algal blooms does not appear to be “natural.” Instead, this phenomenon can be directly tied to Florida’s rapid and continued population growth over the last 30 years. As Florida continues to grow, there is something that we can all do collectively to “turn the tide,” and reduce the risk of worsening red tide/blue green algae outbreaks.

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