An edition of: WaterAtlas.orgPresented By: Seminole County, USF Water Institute

Water-Related News

Northwest Florida WMD officials are testing new technology that turns algae into fertilizer

On Tuesday, the Northwest Florida Water Management District showcased a machine that can turn algae found in ponds and lakes to usable fertilizer for plants.

At May’s Nursery in Havana, algae is beginning to take over a nearby pond. Not only do farmers use the pond to water over 400 different species of plants, but scientists have found the pond feeds directly into the Gulf of Mexico and imposes a serious threat to the state’s ecosystem.

Dan Levy is the founder of AECOM's algae practice team and is partnering with the Northwest Florida Water Management District (NWFWMD) to clean and collect algae from Northwest Florida water bodies.

Green Algae?

"Unfortunately, when an abundance of nutrients get in our waterways, we end up forming harmful algal blooms,” said Levy.

Algae forms when runoff from fertilizer used on farms and lawns brings too many nutrients, like nitrogen and phosphorus into the water.

"We’re using close to 200 metric tons of fertilizer annually across the globe," said Levy. "The U.S. uses about 10 percent of that. If we can find a way to harvest the nutrients that is runoff through normal agricultural practices, we now have another tool in the toolbox to help us craft a sustainable closed loop system.”

Algae as a fertilizer

With the help from the University of Florida research department, the green gunk can now be turned into an alternative fertilizer.