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New algae-removing technology debuts at Tallahassee lake

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 7:09 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - New tech debuting in Tallahassee is what environmentalist are calling a “game changer” in tackling harmful algae bloom.

The first of its kind is now operating at Lake Munson, and the idea is that the machine takes in lake water, removes the algae and recycles it back in to the lake. Algae-filled water goes in, and crystal clear water comes out

AECOM, the company behind it, said this is the first time this type of algae harvesting is being done at such a large scale. They added that it’s putting North Florida on the cutting edge of battling algae blooms, but hopefully, this is just the beginning.

“We’re seeing more and more harmful algal blooms,” said Global Director of algae program, Dan Levy. “They’re becoming more toxic and they’re lasting longer.

Levy said this machine could be the answer.

“We have an abundance of nutrients that are accumulating, and for us to physically take those nutrients out is one of the best methods to mitigate this problem,” explained Levy.

Water is pumped from Lake Munson into the machine, then treated with a solution and runs through a series of filters. All the algae floats to the surface, where a skimmer can remove all of it into a separate tank. The clean, clear water then recycles back in to the lake.

“Really, all of our water is connected,” said Kellie Ralston with the Northwest Florida Water Management district. “When we see the rain come down and come in to the lakes, and particularly because of our geology, we have the aquifer.”

Ralston said this process will benefit Lake Munson, but also clean up Wakulla Springs and the upper Wakulla River.

kellie ralston // northwest florida water management district

“So whatever we can do to help nutrient load at the front end of the system helps all the way down the line.”

The machine was funded through a$1.9 million grant from the DEP as the nation’s first.

However, AECOM hopes to continue scaling up for places like South Florida and Lake Okeechobee, which are particularly impacted by harmful blooms.

“We can actually reduce the nutrients that are coming in to the lake by installing these harvesters and intercepting the water coming in to the lake, we can then prevent the amount of nutrients coming in to the lake,” added Levy.

AECOM is working on taking the algae that’s removed here from the water and recycling that and turning it in to usable bio-fuel.

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