Marco Island brings in company to conduct study to prevent another algae crisis

Reporter: Taylor Smith
Published: Updated:
Marco Island (WINK News)

Getting ahead of another algae crisis.

Marco Island is bringing in a company from Orlando to study where the nutrients that get into our water come from. Those nutrients could potentially fuel blue-green algae and red tide.

People come to Marco Island for the beautiful water, which is why the city is determined to find the source of the problem in those waters.

Neighbors feel it’s gotten worse.

“The waterways aren’t quite as clean as they used to be,” said Marco Island homeowner, Kim Park.

Park has lived on the intracoastal waters on Marco Island for more than 30 years.

“We’re seeing a lot of debris get dumped from, I’m assuming, landscapers,” she said.

“A lot of times, it looks like it might be some sewage from somewhere,” said Dawn Gouley who also lives on the island.

To get to the bottom of the mystery, the city has budgeted $130,000 to figure it out.

The project will test the bottoms of the canals, the open waters in and around the island and more.

“We will be installing stormwater collectors and collecting runoff from different land uses and areas with and without reuse irrigation,” said President of ERD, Dr. Harvey Harper.

The project director says these tests will help them analyze what are called stable isotopes.

“The isotopes can distinguish the source of nitrogen, whether it came from wastewater or sewage or fertilizer or atmospheric deposition or runoff,” Harper said.

That will help them get one step closer to pinpointing the source of the island’s water issues.

“We’re hoping something can be done, and I know it will be a hard task, but we’re behind the whole process,” Gouley said.

“Water is the center of everything and if we have a water problem, we need to get it fixed,” Dawson said.

The Waterway Advisory Board of Marco Island says they are having their first kick-off meeting in two weeks.

The official testing will start on the first of April and will go on for six months.

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