Stuart, FL — U.S. Congressman Brian Mast (FL-18) today introduced new legislation, called the Toxic Health Threat Warning Act, requiring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to notify affected communities about public health dangers before discharging water contaminated with cyanobacteria.

“Our goal is no discharges, period. But right now, the Army Corps won’t even acknowledge the health risks created by their discharges,” Rep. Mast said. “The bottom line is this: if someone’s health is at risk, then they need to be notified. This bill will require the Army Corps to take accountability for their life-threatening actions and ensure that people know the dangers of coming into contact with toxic water.”

Last summer, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers discharged water from Lake Okeechobee that was found to be more than 50 times too toxic for human contact. As a result, animals died and people became severely ill. Scientists and health professionals have found that toxic algae can cause nausea, vomiting, liver disease and even death. Scientists have also linked at least one other toxin in the algae to neurological diseases such as ALS and Alzheimer's.

The Toxic Health Threat Warning Act would:

  • Require tests to be conducted to determine whether the water to be released from a flood risk management project is contaminated with cyanobacteria; and
  • If the water is contaminated, require the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to notify the public and affected governments of the contamination, planned discharge and potential public health effects before releasing the water.