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Water Treatment Company Looks For State Funds

Courtesy Tom DeBusk

An environmental company wants funding from the Florida Legislature for its process that strips nutrients from water ways.

Excessive nutrients can lead to algal blooms and affect water quality.

Scientist Tom DeBusk and his company Water and Soil Solutions divert nutrient-rich water into makeshift wetlands, treat it and then send it back into the main water way. 

Floating aquatic vegetation absorbs nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous. DeBusk says this process of using these plants is nothing new.

But eventually, operators have to get the plants out of the water.

“Once the system is full of vegetation, you’ve got nutrient enriched plants there and the historically the strategy was [to] figure out some mechanical means of pulling out all of this vegetation out of your impoundment or wetland and storing it on dry land,” he said.

DeBusk said getting rid of those plants can be expensive. He developed a method that he began using on a large-scale almost two years go called Floating Aquatic Vegetative Tilling.

Instead of hauling plants out of the water, DeBusk drains the area and then tills, which drives the plants into the ground. He then fills the area back up and lets a new batch of nutrient-free plants grow.

Republican state Rep. Matt Caldwell of Lehigh Acres is asking the legislature for more than $3 million for Water and Soil Solutions.

The budget item request said the state funded construction for three of these sites.

The company currently has one operational location in Hendry County.

The requested dollars would go toward operating costs at two new sites in Hendry and Highlands Counties.