Miami-Dade Officials to Reopen Public Beaches North of Haulover Inlet After Red Tide Tests

Officials in Deerfield Beach are awaiting the test results of water samples.

Beaches in Miami-Dade County are being reopened on Friday after officials closed them following recent tests that showed the water tested positive for red tide.

Citing "an abundance of caution," Miami-Dade officials closed beaches north of Haulover Inlet due to tests taken earlier in the week coming back in the medium concentration range. 

Mayor Carlos Gimenez announced in a news release later Thursday the beaches that were once closed will be reopened on Friday following a conversation with state officials. 

"Swimming is safe for most people," Gimenez said in the statement. "In fact, beaches on the west coast of Florida, which have been plagued by red tide in recent months, remain open."

The county will be placing signs on the beaches to warn residents and visitors about the potential health effects of red tide, and beachgoers are expected to heed warnings.

"It's very rare for us to have it over here," said Lt. Matthew Sparling of Miami- Dade Fire Rescue Ocean Rescue. "People come here to be on the beaches and they don't want to be coming down here to be exposed to red tide or sewage spills or whatnot, ... so yeah, I think we can be in trouble."

Three other tests taken in Miami Beach and Key Biscayne came back in the "very low to low" range. Miami-Dade said they will continue to work with Florida FWC officials to monitor the situation.

Gimenez called the move a "proactive step" to ensure residents and visitors are not affected.

Palm Beach County beaches that were once closed will reopen by Friday, officials announced Thursday. Signage will be displayed advising beachgoers of the effects of red tide. At least six beaches have been closed since the weekend.

Beaches in Broward are also being tested for red tide, after several beach goers reported experiencing some mild coughing and irritation.

"For our asthma patients or patients with chronic lung disease like emphysema and bronchitis, it’s a little bit worrisome, and they could have several days of problems if they’re not careful," said Glenn Singer, a pulmonologist at Broward Health Medical Center.

No Broward beaches have been closed and officials said they are working with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to perform water quality monitoring throughout the county.

Fort Lauderdale officials said they are waiting for test results but based on their observation of conditions, they believe red tide is present in Fort Lauderdale.

Officials in Deerfield Beach are also awaiting the test results of water samples, which were expected later Wednesday but have not been announced. 

"Obviously this has a tremendous impact when it comes to public safety and we want to make sure that we’re doing the right thing by the public," said Mayor Bill Ganz, who was frustrated that the results were not announced as planned. "We also have a responsibility when it comes to our businesses as well."

The growing red tide crisis prompted Gov. Rick Scott to announce $3 million in state assistance from Florida Department of Environmental Protection for Lucie, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties to help mitigate the effects of red tide.

The King Tides expected in South Florida in October and November also could worsen the outbreak, as high levels of seawater push into shore, if large amounts of the algae are flowing close to the shoreline.

Red tide is caused by algae and is common on Florida's Gulf Coast. It was hit hard over the summer by an outbreak that caused a massive die-off of fish and other sea life. It also caused breathing problems in some humans. There have been 57 Gulf Coast outbreaks since 1953.

Red tide is uncommon on the state's Atlantic Coast, with only eight outbreaks since 1953. The last outbreak in Palm Beach County was 10 years ago.

For more information on red tide, check out the FWC's website.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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