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Department of Health issues advisory due to toxic algae

Algal bloom found in Doctor's Lake Inlet Monday. The State Department of Health says people should stay out of the water. (St. Johns Riverkeeper, 2013)
Algal bloom found in Doctor's Lake Inlet Monday. The State Department of Health says people should stay out of the water. (St. Johns Riverkeeper, 2013)
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Updated: 10/19/2013 12:06 am
FLEMING ISLAND, Fla. -- Florida Department of Health officials in Clay and Duval counties have issued a health advisory after test results show high levels of toxic algae in the St. Johns River.

For days the algae has covered the boat ramp of the Doctors Lake Marina in Fleming Island, turning even the wood bright green.

Dock master Bill Hershberger said it smells like rotten garbage.

"It's been blowing up on my ramp and it's been about 8 inches thick," said Hershberger.

Hershberger said this is the worst algae bloom he's seen in years.

"I'm telling my customers you shouldn't go swimming. You can go boating but don't get any on you, don't get wet," said Hershberger.

The Florida Department of Health issued a health advisory warning people not to come in contact with the toxic algae. The advisory was issued after the St. Johns River Water Management District released the results of two algae samples taken from the marina.

"In the river, we see concentrations of 1 to 2 parts per billion, but in this concentrated scum, we had numbers in the thousands, low thousands -- 1,000 to 4,000," said John Hendrickson with the St. Johns River Water Management District.

According to Hendrickson, the samples came back so high because the samples were taken in a heavily concentrated area and the results don't mean the entire river has the same levels.

But the St. Johns River Keeper said these results are 200 times greater than what the World Health Organization considers safe for people.

Meanwhile, Hendrickson believes this is the worst of the algae bloom we'll see this year; he expects the cooler weather to improve conditions on the river.
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