FGCU, Lee County study on algae clean-up to yield results by summer 2022

The Calusa Waterkeeper says we are ahead of schedule this year when it comes to the amount of algae in our waters. Lee County is now teaming up with Florida Gulf Coast University on a new experiment to clean up the algae.

There are several gallons of water filled with plants being tested for nitrogen in a Glades County reservoir. Nitrogen and phosphorus are two key factors when it comes to these algae blooms. By mitigating those factors, we can mitigate the blooms.

Dr. Tom Missimer, from the U.A. Whitaker College of Engineering at FGCU, says two things that will make this experiment successful: the technology they are using and the ability to apply it on a much larger scale.

“The slow sand filtration and UV have been used quite extensively with the treatment of drinking water,” Missimer said. “It’s not new technology; slow sand filtration has been around for almost 200 years. If UV really has been, you say, in the last 20 years… well we have to think about, it’s not only the maturity of the technology, but something that could be scaled up to a large scale.”

FGCU is going to get everything set up by June. The study will take around 12 months, so we can expect to see results by next summer.

“There’s over 10 square miles of area at that reservoir, so a lot of water is going to need to be treated before it’s returned to the river,” Missimer said. “Those are the two things: One, a proven technology that has the ability to be scaled up to a large scale for treatment. And they are engineered solutions to a very difficult problem.”

“While this might not be something that we can use this year for any impending algae growth, it is part of something that we can look forward to in the coming years,” said Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman. “This is something that has plagued Florida for a long time and we have to keep working towards solutions.”

Reporter:Nicole Lauren
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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