Blue-Green Algae Task Force tackles future solutions to water crisis

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The group assigned to tackle blue-green algae in Southwest Florida waterways is on the job, looking at solutions based on data it has collected.

The Blue-Green algae task force is in charge of addressing and reducing nutrients going into our waterways. Members are doing their best to advise lawmakers on how to prevent it.

One member highlighted some past successes in reducing our algal worries.

“I think a couple of the successes would be helping to move the septic-to-sewer conversion forward,” said Dr. Mike Parsons, a professor at Florida Gulf Coast University. “I think putting some of these stormwater retention ponds on the radar, especially some of the legacy ones… increasing the monitoring is another really big one.”

Parsons is one of the five members of the task force. While he is happy for their past successes, He is looking ahead to more in the future. He said his eyes are on nutrient hotspots in our area.

“The big bubbles [on a task for map] showing sites where they had high nitrogen or high phosphorus levels, I’d be looking at those spots, you know, and try to try to see if we can really address the high nutrient areas, the high nutrient sources,” Parsons said.

Knowing the nutrient levels is one thing; knowing where they come from is how we make a change.

“I think that the other thing would be going back to those increasing trends or decreasing trends… kind of get in there and see, why did it increase? Or why did it decrease? What’s working? What’s not?” Parsons said.

While positive change in the watershed, like decreased nitrogen at Billy’s Creek, is a good thing, it will become a problem if those changes don’t stretch to the Caloosahatchee River.

“Look, at the end result, do we see nutrient levels dropping in the estuary itself when the water flows out San Carlos Bay?” Parsons said. “Are there less nutrients in it? Because that’s ultimately what we’re interested in, is that we want to reduce the nutrients that are getting into the river and getting out into the Gulf of Mexico.”

The Blue-Green Algae Task Force is a kind of environmental dream team, but it is also an advisory board. After it makes recommendations, it’s up to state lawmakers and state agencies to put their recommendations in action.

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