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Water-Related News

What is the answer to Florida’s red tide problem? Local experts say it won’t be cheap

Local officials and water quality experts are calling for a renewed emphasis on infrastructure to reduce the frequency of harmful algae blooms like red tide.

Congressman Vern Buchanan led a red tide roundtable Friday [March 17] to discuss the impact of the algae and brainstorm solutions. The group agreed that reducing stormwater runoff and wastewater spills could alleviate algae blooms.

Improvements to water infrastructure, such as the pipes that carry sewage, could produce substantial benefits to water quality. Old pipes and wastewater systems contribute to spills and leaks that harm local waterways.

“It’s all about nutrients — and we have proof,” said Sandy Gilbert, founder of the Solutions to Avoid Red Tide (START) organization.

Since October, a persistent bloom of red tide has plagued Southwest Florida, including Manatee County’s beaches on Anna Maria Island. Red tide, which is caused by a microscopic organism called Karenia brevis, can lead to widespread fish kills and cause respiratory issues for humans.

Buchanan started the discussion by highlighting the challenges that red tide can make for the region. Visitors and residents choose Florida for its environment, but red tide tends to keep people away from the beach.

In the past few weeks, Manatee County has removed more than 3 1/2 tons of dead fish that washed ashore.