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The beach is Marco’s No.1 economic engine. If we flirt, what is the economic impact on tourism of having miles of muddy beaches? What is …

The famous 490-page Harper report is overshadowed by one overwhelming recommendation: dredge the waterways and canals of Marco Island at a cost of $ 200 million!

All the dredging projects I’ve read have some common issues:

  • runoff: The body of water has a significant continental runoff that flows into it
  • Contamination: Contamination from active septic tank leaks or discharges from licensed indoor wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) contribute above acceptable levels of TN and TP pollutants
  • Invasive: The presence of invasive (exotic) vegetation and / or the unprecedented growth of algae SUPER-BLOOM events!

The Indian River Lagoon at the eastern outlet of Lake Okeechobee which empties into this estuary. The massive algae super-blooms lasted for up to 8 months, preventing adequate sun penetration into the body of water and killing submerged aquatic vegetation (sea grasses) and aquatic habitats (dead fish).

  • Mud: As the massive bloom (and / or invasive vegetation) events subside, dead organic matter falls to the bottom of these shallow water bodies, creating a bed of “black earth” that continues to decompose, consuming soil. oxygen and releasing nitrogen (TN) and phosphorus. (TP) that he had consumed as nutrients.

The body of water is then in a state of “cultural eutrophication”. The thick manure mats are not removable other than by dredging. Most of these water bodies are not “flush” tidal pools that remove much of this sediment over time through tidal exchange.

Marco’s canals will flow with the tides and sediment deposits at the bottom will decrease over time, as is the case in Tampa Bay.

Marco’s dissolved oxygen (DO) body of water is now deteriorating. Marco is currently experiencing weekly outbreaks of algae blooms, but our streams have not experienced super bloom events and the Rookery Bay Estuary or Marco streams have no runoff. mainland pollutant at the scale and volumes of the Indian River Lagoon or Tampa Bay estuary.

We know our Marco a source of phosphorus and nitrogen pollution. The so-called partially treated wastewater ‘reuse waterr ‘and distributed by the Marco wastewater treatment plant for the irrigation of public and municipal properties and golf courses, contains excessive amounts of these pollutants.

If we take the first common sense step that Indian River Lagoon and Tampa Bay took, we can dodge the dredge ball! Wastewater treatment plants in these estuaries reduced nutrient levels as a FIRST STEP! – they did not go directly to the dredging.

These estuaries removed excess pollutants by implementing the removal of nutrients in sewage treatment plants with Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT); they got nutrient reductions of up to 90% – THEY REDUCED THE NUTRIENTS! in wastewater effluents.

This is the first step that Marco must take!

Tampa Bay AWT The reduction of point sources of wastewater combined with the focus on restoring their seagrass beds and mangroves has resulted in a current Tampa Bay that “looks and functions a lot like the 1950s.”(Greening et al., 2014). Maybe Marco’s waters can become “gin clear” again?

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) awarded a demonstration project to the Phosphorus Free Water Solution, LLC (PFWS) company of Lakeland FL to use their proprietary technology which reduces phosphorus by 99% and nitrogen by 95% (https://phosphorusfree.com, 2021). This project will treat water entering Lake Okeechobee from the north. If this technology is as good as the 2017 PFWS demonstration project did at Lake Apopka, sign up!

Clean up our reuse water! ; Apply AWT to the STEP of Marco. REMOVE NUTRIENTS BEFORE REUSE WATER ENTERS MARCO WATERWAYS. Don’t let those dredging machines get near Marco.






Phosphorus Free Water Solutions, LLC (https://phosphorusfree.com) was engaged to work with SFWMD on a Lake O demonstration project, to remove polluting nutrients (without dredging).


As the Harper report does not recommend any reduction in the nutrients discharged into the Marco water body, degradation will continue and sedimentation (turbidity) could worsen if we dredge.

The question asked of Dr. Harper is “what are the economic impacts of dredging on Marco’s NUMBER ONE ASSET – Our pristine beaches? ”

About Edward Fries

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