Helping improve water quality for Florida and across the country

A water warrior in Charlotte County is helping improve water quality for the state and across the country.

Florida’s waterways haven’t simply been the backdrop of Betty Staugler’s work; they’re home for her. “When we have blooms that are these large blooms, they’re very newsworthy, they’re very devastating to the economy, that has forced us to be a leader in… in many areas,” Staugler said.

She’s served as a Florida Sea Grant UF/IFAS Extension Agent in Charlotte County for 17 years and has helped many captains, like Ralph Allen. “I could have always come to Betty and said, ‘Hey, let me go show you something,’ and she’d be there just as soon as she could get there. I mean, that’s just the way they work,” Allen said.

Ralph Allen is captain and owner of King Fisher Fleet.

Now, Staugler is taking her skills to the next level as NOAA’s Harmful Algal Bloom Liason. “My role is really to coordinate the communication between the different NOAA partners and the Sea Grant partners across the nation to improve our ability to produce forecasting products for the nation,” she said.

From the Chesapeake Bay to Washington State to Southwest Florida, her goal is to help people have forecasting tools for harmful algal blooms. In SWFL, we’ve seen our fair share.

“It’s the early warnings that we can provide to say a water treatment plant operator or to a natural resources manager, to somebody who needs to put up signage at a beach,” Staugler said.

Since she has Florida expertise, it could benefit everyone. “I know that she’ll have our interests at heart,” said Allen.

Staugler and her team have recently completed a red tide communications plan for Florida. While this plan isn’t about the forecasting tools, it does address how to relay red tide risks to the public better.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Drew Hill
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