NewsProtecting Paradise


Sarasota employs new tool to fight red tide

Posted at 1:10 PM, Nov 01, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-01 13:10:55-04

SARASOTA, Fla.-- Over the past few months, the water views around Sarasota were obstructed by a nasty nuisance, fish kills from red tide.

Red tide has ravaged the region for a year now and officials say humans can play a role in feeding the toxic algae through the debris and trash that washes through storm drains.

"A lot of folks don't realize that those storm drains are going straight out to the bay without being filtered," said Sarasota Sustainability Manager Stevie Freeman-Montes.

So city officials brought in a solution: The baffle box. It's a massive, three-chamber box that filters stormwater before it's emptied into the bay.

The box is 18 feet wide and 24 feet long. It acts as a catch basin, stopping any debris that flows through.

"I don't know that any other community has one as big as this. This is kind of one of a kind," project manager Bill Nichols said.

The $1.1 million project was completed in August. Since then, it's removed roughly 100,000 pounds of debris, everything from palm fronds to spare tires.

"I was surprised at just the quantity of it. Definitely," said Freeman-Montes.

All that debris could've washed into the bay and as it decomposed, it could've fed the red tide bloom. "Nitrogen and phosphorus and nutrients prolong and worsen red tide events," Freeman-Montes said.

Every little bit helps in the fight against destructive algae. It's unclear at this time if officials plan to use more of the boxes in the future.