Red tide is back on our shores with its devastating impacts on our marine environment and way of life. Residents and visitors are attracted to the west coast of Florida for our pristine beaches, calm coastal waters, beautiful sunsets, delicious seafood, and so much more. When red tide blooms, beaches become lined with dead fish and marine life, the stench of death and decay is carried throughout nearby communities, water sports and walks on the beach become impossible without throat and eye irritation, and we can no longer enjoy Florida’s natural beauty.
START (Solutions To Avoid Red Tide), a citizen’s based, 501(c)3 non-profit organization, has been working since 1996 to educate the public about how to deal with the harmful effects of red tide, as well as developing programs that reduce excess nutrients in our waterways that feed red tide and other harmful algal blooms. This includes the promising new Carbon-Life Nutrient Barrier, our award-winning GCORR Oyster Recycling Program, and our partnership in the Sarasota Bay Watch’s clam restoration program. By using these pro-active tools to reduce excess nutrients,
START is improving water quality and helping to reduce the impact of red tide. By donating to START, these tools can be implemented throughout the Gulf Coast community and YOU become part of the solution!
Red Tide is caused by an algae-like organism called Karenia brevis, that normally lives in our coastal waters in small amounts; however, when it encounters an unusually large amount of nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), it expands into a bloom. Red tide blooms can cover miles along the Gulf of Mexico coast and nearby bays. The toxins released by the red tide organism kill many kinds of sea life. The 2018 red tide resulted in the death of approximately 580 sea turtles, 174 dolphins, 209 manatees and millions of fish.
Residents and tourist are greatly impacted by red tide when they cannot enjoy the beaches and recreational activities that Florida is known for without the threat of discomfort or illness from exposure to red tide. The toxins produced by red tide can be suspended in the air near beaches affecting people by causing irritated eyes, respiratory illness and skin irritations.
Red tide also causes major economic losses in tourism, the commercial fishing industries and property values.
Nutrients Feed Red Tide
The west coast of Florida is an optimal habitat for Karenia brevis because of ideal water temperature, salinity, sunlight, as well as an abundance of nutrients. There are many sources that contribute to the excess nutrients that feed red tide and other harmful algal blooms including airborne residue from power plants and automotive exhaust, discharges from wastewater facilities, effluent from septic tanks and stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff is generated from rain events that flow over the land and impermeable surfaces like paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops and runs unfiltered into our waterways. The runoff picks up nutrients from the soil and fertilizer as well as pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils.
New Solution to Reduce Excess Nutrients that Feed Red Tide
We must reduce man-made sources of nutrients that feed red tide from entering our waterways. Progressive Water Resources, a Sarasota, FL hydrology company, has successfully completed a pilot test using a new Carbon-Life Nutrient Barrier at Lakewood Ranch, FL to improve the quality of reclaimed water. Reclaimed water, is recycled domestic wastewater that has been disinfected and treated to remove impurities to become clear and odorless. However, this water still has high levels of the nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus. The Carbon-Life Nutrient Barrier reduced nitrogen by 73% and phosphorus by 87% in the reclaimed water. The process uses a mixture of special wood chips, saw dust and biochar, a form of charcoal produced under pressure without oxygen, to naturally filter the nutrients out of the reclaimed water.
Based on the impressive results from the Lakewood Ranch project, START is partnering with Progressive Water Resources to bring the promising Carbon-Life Nutrient Barrier to Bay Park that is under development on Sarasota Bay. The Carbon-Life Nutrient Barrier will be installed around the park’s lagoon to reduce the nutrients in an estimated 8.3 million gallons of stormwater per one-inch rain event before it runs into Sarasota Bay. This will improve the water quality in the lagoon and nearby bay and increase the biodiversity and health of our sea life. The Carbon-Life Nutrient Barrier at Bay Park will be the first treatment of its kind along the Sun Coast.
Your donation will bring three important programs to this area to fight red tide:
1. Carbon-Life Stormwater Nutrient Barrier: Funding will cover design and monitoring costs to build the barrier at Bay Park.
2. GCORR (Gulf Coast Oyster Recycle and Renewal Program): START’s award-winning program that works with local restaurants to collect used oysters shells, treat them, and use them to restore and build oyster reefs, instead of sending the shells to landfills. The shells will be used to store and expand the oyster reefs including at Bay Park.
3. Sarasota Bay Watch’s Clam Restoration Program: Restore the once native and abundant hard-shell clam population in the bay that helps clean water and reduce the burden of red tide. In addition, your funding will enable START to expand our public education & outreach program which educates policy makers, the media, and community and neighborhood organizations about the importance of reducing the excess nutrients in our waterways that feed red tide and other harmful algal blooms. Whether you are a visitor or resident of Florida, this is your chance to make a real difference in reducing the impact of harmful algal blooms like red tide. Your contribution will help protect our marine life and improve our quality of life.
In addition to donating, please visit our website to learn what other steps you can take to help reduce the nutrients that feed red tide at https://start1.org/what-can-you-do/ Lastly, please help us get the word out by sharing the link to your Facebook timeline!