WEST PALM BEACH – At their June 23 meeting, the Florida Blue Green Algae Task Force reviewed the innovated technologies being studied and tested to control Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).
Edward Smith, director of Office of Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, said the Innovative Technology Program started two years ago. Funding goes toward projects that are submitted by government entities.
“We look for projects that are focused on prevention first,” he said. That means focusing on “the excessive nutrients that we have in the waters in the state of Florida,” either preventing nutrients from reaching the waterways or cleaning up nutrient load already in the water.
“We’re looking for projects that are mobile,” he continued. That’s because algal blooms “don’t stay put” in one area.
“We look for projects that create a beneficial by-product to make a more sustainable program,” he added.
He said 20 projects have been selected in the last two years. Eight of the projects are along the east coast of Florida, two in Lake Okeechobee and two on the Caloosahatchee River.
“We looked for diverse styles and options,” he said. “We looked for those that would benefit an area with a known Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP).”
Seven nutrient reduction projects have been selected including:
• Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department: HyBrTec biosolids to hydrogen pilot plant (the hydrogen would be used to power the wastewater system);
• Brevard County: Nitrogen-reducing media in septic systems;
• City of Bonita Springs: Felts Avenue Bio-Reactor, phase II (bio-reactors taken in urban stormwater runoff, grow a bacteria that uses the nutrients as food and the clean water is released);
• Lee County: Water quality and treatment study;
Nine algae reduction and removal projects include:
• St. Johns River Water Management District: Intact cellular algae harvesting and nutrient removal;
• Northwest Florida Water Management District: Intact cellular algae harvesting and nutrient removal;
• Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU): Ultrasonic algal bloom control;
• FGCU: Grown inhibition of harmful algal blooms (HAB) - hydrogen peroxide;
• University of Central Florida: Nutrient reduction using activated media filtration;
• St. Johns River Water Management District Lake Guard Oxy control of HAB formation;
• Loxahatchee River ECD: Nanobubble Ozone Technology treatments (ozone kills the algae and the microcystin toxins);
• Lake St. Charles CDD: Ultrasonic combined with bubble and absorbent met;
He said the intact harvesting of cellular algae projects remove intact algae from the water and turn it into biodiesel.
The ultrasonic systems prevent the cynanobacteria’s ability to control their buoyancy.
Four projects would identify means to better predict formation of algal blooms:
• Indian River Lagoon Council: Integrating HAB data across platforms;
• Brevard County: Multi-spectral optical sensor trained remote sensing analysis of satellite imagery;
• Polk County: Forecasting, detection and mitigation of HABs;
• FAU Harbor Branch: HAB assessment of Lake Okeechobee (HALO).
HALO is a lives monitoring project which monitors both the algae and the nutrients in the sediment. The project uses an autonomous sailboat on Lake Okeechobee. “It is amazing, it has survived and it’s giving us really good data,” Smith said.
If state officials can predict where the blooms will form, they can have equipment in place to deal with the HAB before it becomes a problem for the public, Smith explained.
The grant portal is open for the year until July 15 at ProtectingFloridaTogether.gov/state-action/grants-submissions