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Algae cleanup underway in Martin County

Posted at 8:09 PM, Aug 27, 2018

After four days, Martin County beaches were reopened to swimmers Monday as there were no signs of blue-green algae in the ocean. But algae still plagues the area's rivers and canals so a new cleanup effort is underway on the water.

It looks like a manta ray, it’s mouth skimming just below the surface, gulping in one green blob after another.

It is a device being used by AECOM, a company contracted by Martin County to remove algae from the water's surface.  Monday, the device, invented by a Jensen Beach man, was vacuuming up algae in the basin of Central Marine in Stuart.

“As long as we keep doing the dumping of the lake, we’re going to keep enduring these algae. Something needs to be done in the lake," said Central Marine owner Mary Radabuagh.

Skimmers direct the algae into a tube and a vacuum sucks that algae into a 500-gallon tank on a boat.  That’s then transferred to a truck that can hold 2,000 gallons.  The trucks go to a wastewater treatment plant where the algae will be placed in a storage tank.

After several hours, a good portion of the algae had been removed from a boat slip.

“So to remove it from the canals and the businesses I think is a good thing, however it is not a solution," said Radabuagh.

County Ecosystem Manager John Maehl says he was encouraged to see this has some effectiveness but adds it’s a learning process.

“The algae seems to be blooming in the estuary so unfortunately, we’re going to have more opportunity to work on this," said Maehl.

So far the county has received 18 requests for service to remove algae.  The contract with AECOM lasts until December.