Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Tests Blue-Green Algae Removal System

Blue-green algae in the Caloosahatchee River at the beginning of Summer, 2018.
Tom James -
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Southwest Florida is in some ways on the front lines of the global battle against harmful algal blooms. On yesterday’s show we met an ethnobotanistwho has spent decades, along with his team of world class researchers, exploring the possible connections between the toxins produced by blue-green algae and neurodegenerative disorders like ALS and Alzheimer’s. He was in town attending a water summit because as he described it this part of Florida faced a “toxic vice” last year when the freshwater blue-green algae met the offshore red tide bloom in the Caloosahatchee estuary.

On today’s show we’re going to learn about one approach that’s being tested by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to try to stop blue-green algae blooms in their early stages, and actually use that algae to create products including biofuel. 

The Corps is teaming up with an international engineering company called AECOM, and a laboratory called Pacific Northwest National Labs to test a system that physically removes blue-green algae from the water, and then converts it into products including biofuel. It’s been dubbed the Harmful Algal Bloom Interception, Treatment, and Transformation System– or HABITATS for short.

The idea is not to wait until a massive algae bloom develops, like the one we saw last year, but to get to the cyanobacteria as it begins to bloom. The Corps recently conducted a pilot project test of the process in Moore Haven, long the rim canal surrounding Lake Okeechobee.


We're joined byDr. Martin Page, he is a Research Program Manager with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Engineer Research and Development Center; Dr. Linda Nelson, she is a Program Manager in the Corps’ Aquatic Plant Control, and Aquatic Nuisance Species Research Program; and Bill Colona, he is Senior Project Manager with AECOM.

Copyright 2020 WGCU. To see more, visit WGCU.

Mike Kiniry is producer of Gulf Coast Live, and co-creator and host of the WGCU podcast Three Song Stories: Biography Through Music. He first joined the WGCU team in the summer of 2003 as an intern while studying Communication at Florida Gulf Coast University.
Julie Glenn is the host of Gulf Coast Live. She has been working in southwest Florida as a freelance writer since 2007, most recently as a regular columnist for the Naples Daily News. She began her broadcasting career in 1993 as a reporter/anchor/producer for a local CBS affiliate in Quincy, Illinois. After also working for the NBC affiliate, she decided to move to Parma, Italy where she earned her Master’s degree in communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Her undergraduate degree in Mass Communication is from the University of Missouri at Kansas City.