An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Sarasota County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

City of Sarasota prepping for next wave of toxic red tide destruction

The city has formulated an aggressive plan to clean up the carnage left by red tide

SARASOTA — The city has formulated an aggressive plan to clean up the carnage left by toxic red tide should the area experience a noxious resurgence of the bloom, which has granted Southwest Florida a slight reprieve in recent days.

The city plans to use roughly $228,807 of Florida Department of Environmental Protection grant money disbursed to the municipality through Sarasota County to contract with about 12 laborers, slated to work eight-hour shifts on weekdays through November, if the toxic bloom once again transforms pristine white sand beaches and clean canals into ghastly graveyards of rotting fish, sea turtles, manatees, dolphins and whale sharks as it did last month.

Water samples taken earlier this month from Sarasota County beaches showed a significant decline in red tide cell levels, according to Mote Marine Laboratory officials who performed the testing. There were no longer high concentrations of the red tide organism, Karenia brevis, at any Sarasota County beaches, but four sites — Blind Pass, South Lido, Siesta and Turtle beaches — had medium concentrations. It’s anybody’s guess if the levels will stay low, so city officials are prepared, they said.

“The odor is back, but we’re not seeing yet the abundance of dead fish that we were seeing a little while ago,” Todd Kerkering, the city’s emergency manager, said, adding that since the county is responsible for beach cleanup, the city’s efforts will focus on canals and affected inland waterways.

National Public Lands Day event Sept. 22 at Celery Fields

Sarasota County Commissioners proclaimed Sept. 22, 2018 as National Public Lands Day

SARASOTA COUNTY - Sarasota County Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources (PRNR) will host a volunteer event at the Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility 8:30-11:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, in honor of National Public Lands Day.

The event will pair PRNR staff with volunteers from across the county to improve the park by weeding, pruning, removing invasive species, litter and more.

Volunteers are encouraged to bring hand pruners, work gloves, hat, sunglasses, water, bug spray and sunscreen. Volunteers should also wear closed-toe, closed-heel shoes such as hiking boots or sneakers.

National Public Lands Day is the nation's largest hands-on volunteer effort to improve and enhance America's public lands.

Each year, nearly 200,000 participants volunteer at over 2,500 sites, coming together to accomplish the mission of caring for public lands. It is estimated these annual efforts generate more than $18 million worth of improvements to public lands.

Sarasota County has thousands of acres of land available to the public for hiking, exploration, passive recreation and other activities. These lands are also home to hundreds of protected and endangered species of animals and plants.

The Celery Fields Regional Stormwater Facility is located at 6893 Palmer Blvd., Sarasota.

For more information or to register as a volunteer, call the Sarasota County Contact Center at 941-861-5000.

Venice Council resolution urges residents to curb fertilizer use

VENICE — City leaders formally encouraged residents to not use fertilizer year-round but never discussed the prospect of banning the use of fertilizer or glyphosate herbicides.

A key element of the resolution approved by the City Council would be developing an educational component for city residents.

The amount of nutrients and herbicides pouring into the Gulf have become a hot topic in recent months as the red tide bloom has persisted. The resolution passed, 6-1, with City Council member Jeanette Gates in dissent because the resolution didn’t go far enough.

Gates said she would have preferred if the resolution included herbicides, addressed stormwater runoff, and included exempt entities such as golf courses, schools and government-owned lands.

Charlotte Harbor Estuary Program to propose cyanobacteria rapid response program

To the Editor:

The problems with excess nutrients discharged into water and the resulting toxic algae blooms continue to plague Southwest Florida.

In an effort to evaluate potential remediation solutions, the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP), AquaFlex® Holdings LLC, Sea & Shoreline and the Calusa Waterkeeper initiated deployment of various configurations of AquaFlex Open-Cell in the Caloosahatchee River on August 16th and 17th.

This goal of this demonstration was to determine the potential efficacy of simultaneous removal/detection of the algae and accompanying toxins. This technology, first used in 2010 by BP during the DeepWater Horizon oil spill disaster, has been shown to be effective in removing excess phosphorus and oil-related contaminants in other regions.

Samples taken from the AquaFlex Open-Cell foam after the demonstration were analyzed for removal/detection and absorption of algae/cyanotoxins by the Florida- and EPA-approved GreenWater Laboratories of Palatka, FL. The initial results of this deployment indicated that all configurations of the Open-Cell configurations showed evidence of absorption of algae/toxins into the foam capillary network in concentrations ranging from 45,000 ppb – 259,000 ppb.

Given the results of this demonstration, further investigation is warranted. The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, in collaboration with the Florida Gulf Coast University and Sea and Shoreline, are seeking $65,000 in funding for a pilot study of the AquaFlex product over a larger area (~1 acre), including pre- and post-deployment water quality sampling to assess performanc

e. The objective of the pilot program is to evaluate scalability and efficacy of implementing this technology to remediate excess nutrient and toxic algae blooms in Florida.

Overall, while these results are encouraging as a potential remediation technique, the long-term focus should be on controlling nutrient pollutants at their source to keep them out of waterways to reduce future toxic algae blooms. Accordingly, the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, with its partners and members, is continuing to implement on-going large-scale water quality and hydrological restoration initiatives and projects throughout the 4,700 sq. mile Program area from Venice to Bonita Springs to Winter Haven. Project team would consist of Jennifer Hecker with the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Carter Henne with Sea and Shoreline Aquatic Restoration, Dr. Mike Parsons with Florida Gulf Coast University, and Scott Smith with AquaFlex Holdings LLC (hereinafter “AFH”).

The project team is proposing a rapid response pilot program to remove cyanobacterial and nutrients from the Caloosahatchee River for $65,000 which would include the following:

  • Deployment of open-cell foam rolls for surface removal of the cyanobacteria in approximately one acre of cyanobacteria infected water in the tidal Caloosahatchee River. [Note the foam removes up to 32 times its weight in contaminants and this will include measuring the cyanobacteria removed along with evaluation of disposal in waste to energy facilities where there is no risk of further contamination or human exposure as in a landfill.] Material costs for the open-cell foam for 250,000 square feet of surface area to be deployed as set forth above is $25,000. Travel, labor for deployment, and disposal is estimated at $15,000.
  • Open-Cell foam eelgrass and environmental indicators to be deployed in the water column and submitted to approved Florida laboratories for analysis of cyanobacteria, phosphorus, toxins, and other substances as deemed necessary. Lab testing is estimated at $15,000.
  • Technical oversight, reporting and financial administration is estimated at $10,000.

Background – Prior Validation and Field Work

The outbreak of cyanobacteria and red tide in the waters of Southern Florida is gaining national

attention. New approaches and technologies for rapid response remediation are needed. Given that cyanobacteria feeds on excess nitrogen and phosphorus, it appears that the Open-Cell foam technology may be a suitable rapid response technology worthy of a pilot program to address the cyanobacteria outbreak in the Caloosahatchee River – as it has proven to be very good at absorbing/sequestering particle reactive phosphorus and metals along with hydrocarbons and other contaminants including the cyanobacteria itself and toxins produced by cyanobacteria.

In 2013, AquaFlex Holdings LLC (hereinafter “AFH”) collaborated with the Bermuda Zoological Society which demonstrated how the patent pending Open-Cell foam technology removes metals and hydrocarbons from water. Exhibit A is a summary report and graphs from Dr. Jamie Bacon that show significant reduction of certain metals and hydrocarbons with Open-Cell foam technology. In 2014, AFH filed the initial patent application which is based on actual field work over a multitude of water contamination events including cyanobacteria outbreaks in Toledo, OH and Nantucket, MA.

Exhibit B is the patent filing which is based upon actual field work over 5 years and over 50 water contamination events detailing the efficacy of the Open-Cell foam technology for simultaneous removal/detection of contaminants in water. AFH also worked extensively in a joint demonstration project with UMASS gathering field data from 2014-2015 with a focus on pre-emptive monitoring water with Open-Cell foam technology for simultaneous detection/removal of contaminants from water. The main focus in collaboration with UMASS was to address removal of phosphorus as the primary nutrient that fosters growth and outbreaks of cyanobacteria. The principle here is that by targeting simultaneous removing/monitoring of a key nutrient for cyanobacteria that it is possible to mitigate the growth of cyanobacteria on a large scale – and this research showed some promising results.

AFH has extensive data from the Nantucket project (2 years) and enclosed as exhibit C one testing report as an example where the Open-Cell foam matrix is analyzed as a solid/bulk and showed ranges of 45,000 ppb – 410,000 ppb of phosphorus as removed from the water. AFH has more data including controls that can be provided upon request. This data supports open-cell foam technology sequesters particle reactive phosphorus and metals. AFH is also developing specific formulations aimed to remove nitrates too. AFH asserts that the open-cell foam technology can be scaled up quickly and deployed in a variety of configurations including in roll form from boats and in submerged foam for the water column like natural eelgrass. The cost of the open-cell foam technology is $.10 / square foot of surface area. Exhibit C is a short PowerPoint showing field deployment in Nantucket, MA.

The project team is requesting funding support to conduct a pilot project to deploy this technology and monitor the water quality response in the Caloosahatchee River.

New treatment being developed for manatees poisoned by red tide

SARASOTA - Florida International University and Mote Marine Laboratory are developing new and more efficient ways to treat manatees exposed to toxic red tide.

Through a $428,000 grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s ECOHAB program, FIU and Mote are launching a three-year project to improve veterinary care for rescued manatees by studying how the cells in their immune system respond to certain antioxidants. The goal is to identify those antioxidants that may work better than the current treatment, which uses anti-inflammatory substances.

FIU chemist Kathleen Rein and Mote marine immunology expert Cathy Walsh are leading the research team.

“The current approach is simply to give palliative care and wait for them to clear the toxin and get better,” Rein said. “This new treatment could accelerate the healing process. If this treatment is successful, it could be used with many other animals including dolphins, turtles and birds.”

Venice vice mayor to seek citywide ban of fertilizer

VENICE — Vice Mayor Bob Daniels is asking the City Council to consider a ban on the use of fertilizer within the city limits, similar to one put in place by Sewall’s Point, in Martin County, on the east coast of Florida.

“I’m proposing a year-round ban, until we’re able to monitor what we’re putting into the three miles of the Gulf offshore — that being the outfalls and the septic systems,” Daniels said Tuesday morning at the Venice Municipal Fishing Pier.

Daniels wants the ban to include glyphosate herbicides, commonly known as Roundup.

His proposed ban would be placed on the council’s Sept. 11 agenda for discussion and could be in place “until we can guarantee we’re not putting out any nutrients.”

Sarasota County already regulates the use of fertilizer during the rainy season. Daniels’ idea would go further. He sees it as cutting off nourishment for Karenia brevis, the organism that causes red tide.

Read more: Complete coverage of red tide in Southwest Florida “My hypothesis, for the city, is we can control the food supply for three miles from the city,” Daniels said. “We’re going to cut it off.

“I don’t like seeing people walking around with respirators and gas masks and big dolphins being killed and birds and stuff like that,” he added.

30,000 tons of sand being used for beach renourishment in Longboat

Longboat starts north end beach renourishment

Large trucks hauling earth-moving equipment and 30,000 tons of sand will begin appearing on Longboat Key streets this week as part of the town’s monthlong North End Interim Renourishment project.

The $1.1 million project, which will improve a 600-foot stretch of beach around North Shore Road, became necessary because of beach erosion caused by Hurricane Irma last fall. A July survey by Olsen Associates, a Jacksonville coastal engineering company, found Longboat lost 61,700 cubic yards of sand on four of eight gulf-facing portions of its beach from that storm.

High tides have eroded the beach to the point that the enscarpment – a steep embankment left in the sand dune by beach erosion – has eroded to the base of the southernmost groin.

The lost sand accounts for about 9% of the total put on Longboat two years ago. The town has been nourishing its beaches since 1993, when the town had more than 3.3 million cubic yards of sand placed along the island’s 9.3-mile shoreline.

During the ongoing project, public access to the beach from North Shore Road to Joy Street will be closed.

Eaglewood Beach Waterfest

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ENGLEWOOD - Englewood Beach WaterFest, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for our 2018 Grant Giving Program. These Grants will be given to charitable organizations that foster the protection of our water and marine life, and encourage the recreational use of our water resources. The Application process will be open from September 1, 2018 through October 31, 2018. Grants will be distributed December 31, 2018. All deserving organizations are encouraged to apply for up to a $10,000 Grant. Interested organizations can apply on line at or

Englewood Beach Waterfest is a multi-day, all-ages entertainment event featuring World Championship Offshore Power Boat races, Stand Up Paddle Board Races, on-water fun events, marine education and conservation exhibits, entertainment, food and fun, the proceeds from which are contributed to local charities who support conservation of our water resources. The Family Conservation Center presented by the Ron & Matt Smith State Farm Agency, will be a cornerstone and a must see at WaterFest for 2018 and will be a venue of interactive and educational displays and exhibits focused on water and marine life conservation. The Family Conservation Center will be housed under a 5,000 square foot tented area within the WaterFest Village on Englewood Beach where expert personnel will represent the region’s leading Environment and Conservation organizations including Mote Marine Laboratory.

Steve Schroeder, President of Englewood Beach WaterFest, Inc. states, “We are extremely pleased that we have positioned WaterFest as a premier event in Southwest Florida to draw people from all over the United States. The proceeds from this festival can then be used locally to aid in the protection and responsible use of our waterways. We are excited about this commitment to local charities who can best use the monies to protect our regions unique water resources, encourage their recreational and responsible use of our waterways and foster the overall preservation of those resources today, tomorrow and forever." We encourage all eligible charities to apply.

Now you can take your boater safety exam online

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FWC now allows online providers to offer boating safety exam

Access to Florida’s Boater Education Temporary Certificate Program has been expanded, thanks to work done by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to make allowances for online course providers to offer the required courses over the internet.

In August of 2017, the FWC amended Florida Administrative Code 68D-36.108 to allow the temporary certificate exam to be offered in an online version. This change makes it easier and more convenient for both vessel operators and vessel liveries to comply with Florida’s boater education laws, which require liveries to verify that customers born on or after Jan. 1, 1988, have met Florida’s boating safety education requirements before allowing them to rent their vessels.

Online temporary certificate exam providers will create a system that allows 24-hour, seven-day a week accessibility to the exam using tablets, laptops, or other electronic devices. This added convenience will make it easier for both visitors and residents by allowing them to take the test before a vacation to Florida.

Currently, one online boating safety education provider, Boat Ed, has completed the process to offer the exam online. Boat Ed has been a leader and innovator in boating safety education since 1995. Study or learning materials are available on the Boat Ed site to prepare students for the exam, improve their boating knowledge and increase their chances of successfully completing the exam on the first try. The exam costs $3 and study materials are available for an additional charge. A link to the exam can be found at Boat‑

Prior to this change, paper exams were the only option and were required to be completed and passed by rental vessel operators. The ability for liveries to continue to offer paper exams has not changed with the addition of this online option. Liveries can still purchase and administer the paper exams, as long as their contract and insurance are valid.

The temporary certificate exam is a knowledge check, not a full education course. It cannot be converted into a boater safety identification card that is valid for life. Temporary certificates are not valid in any other state and do not meet boater safety education requirements in other states.

The online exam will be 25 questions, randomly selected from a large pool of questions. The cost for the exam will remain $3. Upon successful completion of the exam, students will be provided an electronic proof of their successful completion and their passing score. A livery will be able to inspect this proof to ensure that a prospective vessel renter has met Florida’s boating safety education requirements.

The new change offers various benefits to liveries:

  • Liveries are not required to contract with any other company to use the online exam.
  • A link that will send customers directly to the online exam can be provided by liveries.
  • Liveries are not required to continue purchasing paper exams from the FWC.
  • The burden of mailing paper tests back to the FWC is removed with the online option.
  • Liveries will be able to provide speedier service to customers who take the exam in advance of renting.

The FWC encourages liveries to transition to the new online exam system to increase accessibility and streamline the testing process for renters interested in enjoying Florida’s beautiful waterways by boat.