Cape Coral taking natural approach to preventing algal blooms

Reporter: Stephanie Byrne Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News

Cape Coral’s newest project may look like a beautification effort but is designed to help protect the City’s water quality. The City of Cape Coral has decided to take a more natural approach to fight harmful algal blooms.

The City is looking at planting where those algal blooms could appear. Cape Coral is teaming up with a company, “Beemats,” to add plants to waterways in order to soak up nutrients. This will help prevent algal blooms.

Or, at least, that’s the goal.

By filling in foam mats with aerated pots, they’ll serve as floating wetlands in ponds, like the ones at Reflections Park. Steve Beeman is a marine biologist and president of Beemats. “We put them in they, the roots go through the holes in the pots, and they grow they take up nutrients and compete with the algae, so no nutrients left for them,” Beeman said.

The project costs just shy of $65,000 and is expected to reduce nutrients from some sources such as fertilizer, which has become a growing problem for our waterways. Kraig Hankins is an Environmental Biologist with Cape Coral Public Works.

“Martin County has a statistic they put out that a dollar worth of fertilizer costs government $1000 to $10,000 to remove from waterways,” Hankins said.

The City and Beemats are still urging people to use fertilizer responsibly. “Don’t over-fertilize because that gets into the drains and gets into the ponds, which gets into the rivers and the estuaries,” said Beeman.

While this may not be the only solution, Hankins says it’s a good place to start. “It’s a start. I mean, we suggest, you know, people, if they live on the waterfront, is to have like a… a buffer area before you get to the seawall or the edge of the waterway,” said Hankins.

The City of Cape Coral believes this is a step in the right direction. The city’s five pilot locations include Reflections Park, Armstrong Canal North, and the Veterans and Kamal Intersection Pond.

The main goal is to keep the floating wetlands out permanently, to maintain them and to continue to collect data.

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