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Water-Related News

Sarasota civil engineer close to a biochar breakthrough in treating reclaimed water

Cleaner waters ahead for Manatee County as pilot program begins in Lakewood Ranch?

Sarasota’s Steve Suau, a civil engineer whose specialty is watershed management planning and water resources, is enjoying the newfound interest the public has for his job.

Red tide has a way of piquing the public’s interest.

“People now actually are interested in nitrogen and phosphorous,” Suau said from his Progressive Water Resources office. “I never thought I would see the day. Since we have had red tide outbreaks, everyone is interested in nutrients.”

Increased interest or not, Suau has for years been investigating ways to produce cleaner waters in Florida. Now in partnership with Schroeder-Manatee Ranch, the University of Florida and the Southwest Florida Water Management District, Suau is about to embark on a pilot program that could have worldwide implications when it comes to cleaner waterways.

Although filtration systems using biochar (made from heating carbon-based materials such as wood, crop residue or animal manure in the absense of oxygen), sawdust and wood chips have been tested for years, Suau believes he has found a way to engineer biochar that would maximize its effectiveness to absorb contaminants.