Mitigating Red Tide – the 20% Solution

As part of the decades long coverup, the State of Florida and associated interests act as solving the Red Tide Crisis would be hard…or impossible! In fact, they don’t even propose solutions! Rather, they come up with schemes such as experiments to spray clay on the water to keep it from being airborne (doesn’t help the water quality, of course). Another silly idea promoted by Mote and the State involves using an Ozone generator – as if we could truly treat 660 quadrillion US gallons of water (the Gulf)…..

I am going to propose a real-world “guess” at what causes the excessive blooms. This would allow us (Florida, Interested Parties) to tamp down the occurrences by taking action.  Some of these actions were supposed to to be underway until Gov. Scott stopped them in their tracks.

My 20% solution breaks down the various causes of excess Red Tide into 5 categories and allows us to determine which can be easily changed…and which are more difficult.

The five categories are as follows:

  1. Global Warming – in this case, warming of the Gulf, which has already occurred.
  2. Phosphate Mining and Tailings – millions of tons are in piles and this fertilizer enters the water table, streams and eventually the Gulf.
  3. Lake O discharges – Billions of gallons of nutrient rich water is diverted from the Lake to both coasts where it seems to feed the Red Tide organism.
  4. Agricultural and Development (turf, etc.) run-off – also, run-off from poor cesspools and septic systems.
  5. Other sources of pollution in the Gulf – the MS. River dumps into the Delta along with excess nutrients and pollutants. Oil and Gas development and drilling adds additional toxins and nutrients to the Gulf.

I believe the excess Red Tide is a “straw that broke the camels back” event and that simply by taking SOME action, we may be able to turn back the Red Tide to levels seen decades ago when it was relatively rare. Let’s go through one by one:

  1. Global Warming – since this doesn’t turn on a dime, it’s not realistic to think we can lower the Gulf temperature. We therefore have to leave this one as-is.
  2. Phosphate Mining – Force mining companies to clean up their messes. Declare some EPA Superfund sites if needed. Work on these efforts can start almost immediately.
  3. Lake O discharges – As was originally planned (stopped by Rick Scott), we need to buy up the Sugar Lands south of Lake O and restore the Everglade water flow. Releases of water from Lake O should be 100% ended. Development on the shores of the Lake and Recreational use may have to be ended – it is better to do it now since there is relatively little development on the Lake. In the past it never was used recreationally and for housing and it should not be so in the future.
  4. Pass laws immediately cleaning up poorly designed septic and cesspool systems. Control development in various ways including disallowing the use of turf that needs heavy doses of nutrients. Improve farming practices and limit livestock raising, which causes vast amount of nutrients (bodily wastes) to enter the watershed.
  5. Cleanup of the larger Gulf is a longer term effort and must be done on a National Level. Have the EPA do it’s job and institute improved land stewardship. Make the oil and gas industry responsible for their effects on the environment.

Some problems, like Cancer, ALS, Parkinsons, Global Warming and others are HARD to solve….but Red Tide mitigation is firmly within our grasp. However, that entails taking hold of the problem, something that Florida seems not to want to do.

For the sake of Florida residents – now and in the future – I hope that the powers-that-be start taking this more seriously.