Activated charcoal used to combat blue-green algae in Cape Coral canal

Published: May 19, 2022 5:58 PM EDT

Cape Coral is attempting to treat the algae in canals with bags of charcoal.

The sacks are tied to a rope from one end of the canal to the other.

The hope is it will act like a Brita filter. The activated charcoal sticks to nutrients and removed them from the water.

So far, the algae has been spotted in freshwater canals, but not saltwater canals.

“It’s kind of like a sponge,” said Kraig Hankins, a Cape Coral environmental biologist.

Hankins and Cape Coral Public Works was out on the Armstrong canal on Thursday afternoon with a hundred bags of the charcoal and unloaded them into the canal.

The bags created a barricade.

And it’s a part of a pilot program to see if this can be a tool in the fight against blue-green algae.

“Once the algae is treated, the nutrients will be released they’ll be coming downstream. And then we’re trying to catch as many as we can before this goes across Veterans where its saltwater,” Hankins said.

“When chemicals get in contact with the charcoal, the chemicals will stick onto it. And so that’s why charcoal acts as such a good filter,” said Mike Parson, with the FGCU Water School.

With this being a hydrogen peroxide treatment, it adds oxygen, while algaecides lower oxygen levels, making it less likely for fishkills.

“It will start reacting and oxidizing different chemicals. The bacteria and blue-green algal cells themselves destroying them. And so it will basically destory these organisms and a lot of the chemical compounds associated with them,” Parsons said.

The plan is to leave the bags for two months to see how effective they are which be decided through testing.