Cape Coral awaits approval to use bubble curtains against blue-green algae

Published: September 24, 2021 5:13 PM EDT
Updated: September 24, 2021 5:29 PM EDT

New technology was put to the test to keep water clean in Cape Coral Friday. It’s yet another effort to improve water quality for people and fish.

The City of Cape Coral hopes bubble curtain technology is the answer to stop blue-green-algae outbreaks.

“Our goal is to avoid a repeat of 2018,” said Michael Ilczyszyn, the assistant public works director.

A city spokesperson told us the day’s bubble curtain test went perfectly. That means Cape Coral will move forward with a permitting process with U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The curtain is supposed to stop algae from spreading when the tide comes in by forming this barrier.

Ilczyszyn explains it will be turned on when needed.

“If there’s a presence of blue-green algae all the way up to the Franklin Lock if it’s detected, there, we’ll be able to turn that on,” Ilczyszyn said. “So if and when they open, that we already have the curtain running before it gets here.”

The city got permission to run this test in the Mandolin Canal Friday. This is a major part of the permitting process with USACE. A hurdle for the city is to prove the curtain won’t harm the habitat of the endangered smalltooth sawfish .

“If we can prove otherwise that the fish can migrate through that air curtain, then, we’ll have better flexibility to run it when we actually have a blue-green algae outbreak,” Ilczyszyn said.

When we were at the test, they were getting a signal from in front of the curtain, an encouraging sign.

Before that installation, they city awaits its permit approval, with the hope of keeping these outbreaks out of canals.

Councilman Tom Hayden told us this test is just the beginning.

“This successful test was the next step in us being able to now go to the other canals, install the curtains and then move forward and hopefully have everything in place for next rainy season,” Hayden said.