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We Learn About an Experimental Approach to Remove Blue-Green Algae from the Water

A finger-like configuration of AquaFlex's open-cell foam floats in a canal just off the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers.

We’re learning more about a method that's being tested to remove blue-green algae from the Caloosahatchee River and area canals. Much of it arrived via releases from the algae-covered Lake Okeechobee -- a move the US Army Corps of Engineers made to keep the water level in the lake at a safe level for the aging Herbert Hoover Dike that surrounds it.

This blue-green algae is the stuff that has canals looking like technicolor guacamole -- and it’s the cyanobacteria that can cause rashes on contact and serious illness if ingested by humans, not to mention the potential fatal effects on marine life, wild animals, pets and livestock.

There is much conjecture on what we should do to make sure this algae isn’t inflicted on coastal communities - but now that it’s already here, how do we get rid of it? Scientists across the country have been working on solutions, and one is being tested right now. This month, a team deployed a new material to test its efficacy in removing blue-green algae from local canals and inlets. Here to tell us more about this technology is its developer, Scott Smith, founder and CEO of AquaFlex. Also joining us for the conversation is Jennifer Hecker, Executive Director, Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.


To read Scott Smith's take on his experiences with the Flint. Michigan water crisis mentioned in the show, click here.