An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

No, there isn’t ‘scientific consensus’ on red tide impact from Piney Point

The governor says it's clear the spill didn’t cause red tide, but researchers say studies are ongoing to determine the extent of the impact.

ST. PETERSBURG – As red tide wreaks havoc in the Bay area, many continue to point the finger at Piney Point and the 215 million gallons of wastewater rich in nutrients known to fuel the toxic algae dumped from the former fertilizer plant into Tampa Bay in April.

Asked about the link, Gov. Ron DeSantis suggested there wasn’t any during a press conference in St. Petersburg last week.

“I think the scientific consensus is clear, it didn't cause the red tide,” DeSantis said of Piney Point. “The red tide was here—I think the biggest impact on Tampa Bay was Elsa, unfortunately.”


Is the scientific consensus clear the Piney Point spill did not cause red tide? And what, if anything, does Elsa have to do with it?


  • Lisa Krimsky, Water Resource Regional Specialized Agent with the University of Florida
  • Maya Burke, assistant director of the Tampa Bay Estuary Program
  • Bob Weisberg, professor of oceanography specializing in harmful algal blooms and spill tracking at the University of South Florida


No, the "scientific consensus" isn't clear that Piney Point did not cause red tide. Elsa was a likely contributing factor. Research into the extent of how the discharge from the former fertilizer plant is affecting the water is ongoing.