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Solutions-Minded Algae Task Force Steps on the Gas

July 2, 2019 - 7:00am

Experts looking into toxic algae outbreaks that have exploded in state waterways want to know if anyone has a proven, innovative cleanup strategy that can be used.

And they want to know quickly.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection is formally accepting information through July 15 on ways to prevent, combat or clean up harmful algal blooms in freshwater bodies and estuaries.

Thomas Frazer, Florida’s chief science officer, said Monday during a state Blue-Green Algae Task Force meeting in Fort Myers that he and other officials at the state department have already been fielding calls from people with ideas about fighting the algae.

Tom Frazier
Tom Frazier
“I wouldn’t want to limit the people who have expressed interest,” Frazer said. “There are times that people may not have a ton of preliminary data … but sometimes there are really good ideas.”

The better ideas will go before the task force at its Aug. 1 meeting, Frazer said.

Gov. Ron DeSantis issued an executive order in January to create the task force in response to outbreaks of toxic algae and red tide across the state last year.

The source of outbreaks in Florida and the Gulf of Mexico is blooms of a single-celled organism called Karenia brevis algae, which produces toxins that kill fish, birds, sea turtles, manatees and dolphins and can cause shellfish poisoning in humans.

The problems particularly drew attention in Southeast and Southwest Florida, as algae plagued water bodies such as the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers and red tide caused fish kills.

Frazer said the task force won’t be asked to pick proposals or vendors but to determine if projects have merit to move forward for potential state grant funding.

Frazer said officials are open to “all different kinds of potential solutions,” which could mean chemical, biological, mechanical ideas or any combination of those methods.

As part of a request for information, more than 35 questions are asked, from potential environmental impacts to the size of water bodies that could be effectively treated.

“With regard to cleanup, specifically, we want to make sure the technology provides near-term ecological and human health relief,” Frazer said.

Some people making proposals could be asked to appear before the task force to answer questions about their proposals.

Frazer said additional people may even be needed to review the viability of proposals.

Part of the grant-making process will be determining who is behind proposals because some information could come from more than one person.

The focus of the task force is Lake Okeechobee and waters on both sides of the lake, but the state is also looking at possible algae impacts as far north as the St. Johns River.

As part of the $90.98 billion budget for the fiscal year that began on Monday, $4 million is slated to go to expanding “statewide water quality analytics for the nutrient over-enrichment analytics assessment and water quality public information portal.”

Separately, a new law (SB 1552) provides $3 million a year for the next five years to the Florida Red Tide Mitigation and Technology Development Initiative to research the causes and impacts of red tide. 

The initiative was created between the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute and Sarasota-based Mote Marine Laboratory.


Maybe it can be harvested, much like that super greed food called spirulina.

I have the solution. How do I contact Tom? Our technology is proven in California and is available for testing. - - -

It might not be the nutrients. Some water quality researchers have suggested at conferences that cyanotoxins could be excreted by algae to chelate metals, and provide protection against metal toxicity.

I told a group from Broward County that everything that lives competes for phosphorus. One man responded “I thought phosphorous was something that used to be in laundry detergent and is now banned.” I hope the politicians and scientists looking at these issues will not be as misinformed as the gentleman from Broward. But I am afraid they are if they think they can find a magic bullet in two weeks to solve these much studied and complicated scientific issues.

"Mother Nature" has been "bringing it", and "taking it away", on a "seasonal basis" since 'time immemorial'... "MESS WITH "MOTHER NATURE, AT YOUR PERIL !"

You must not be from FL, because if you were, you'd know that this is not being fueled by mother nature, This is not the red tide of 30 years ago. It is the turbo charged, super fueled version. How that fuel increased so much and the ways to combat should be the source of these discussions. If you knew anything about Lake O, you'd know they currently have 10 - 40 times the normal levels of Nitrogen and Phosphorous in it (depending on time of year). Every time, they open the flood gates, they release the supercharged fuel for the algae. Mother nature has nothing to do with that, and its time the non-natives realized that...

Sadly for you, I am from Florida (long before your life started, I'm sure.). Now let's talk about Pythons decimating any and all species of Everglades wildlife... faster than algae & "red tide" ever could...

Again.........People like you act like you are not the problem and your coastal sewage and nutrients just automatically disappears. Just keep laying blame to the lake. You are as much a moron as Mr. Mast which I used to have the highest respect for until turning his back on his non coastal supporters. By the way, Born in South Florida and Raised in the Big Lake Area.

prove me wrong...refute anything I said that you believe to be false and cite your sources... Good luck with that.

Huh, you must be "Frank the Fony Syantist" : "cite your sources !" .........PATHETIC.......

When you have polluted water like this (algae), the need is mainly for prevention, not clean up. I don't think pouring more chemicals into the water will help at all. They need to focus on what is causing the problem, which is all kinds of pollution. Cut the nutrients flowing into the water and groundwater, and you will cut the algae. Been warned about for years.

smart girl...wish politicians were smarter...

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