Florida is one of the most populated states in the country. With sunny skies and sandy beaches, it’s no surprise that the state attracts more than 100 million visitors each year. But sunshine doesn’t make the state immune to problems. And right now, Florida is experiencing a rather unpleasant problem: a reeking red tide.
The red tide, which is a toxic algae, has caused problems for visitors and locals alike. The algae not only produces a horrid stench, but it can cause respiratory problems and continuously kills off marine life, which washes up along the Gulf of Mexico.
While the near-constant sunshine and clear waters are what generally draw people to Florida, they’re also partly to blame for this bacterial coating. The microorganisms within the slime can occur naturally in water, but certain additions to the water can make them grow out of control, which can produce harmful toxins.
It’s believed that chemicals found in fertilizers, like nitrogen and phosphorus, along with under-treated sewage water played a big role in the growth of the slime. Heavy rains washed the chemicals into the water, where they consequently created a toxic slime.
While this isn’t the first occurrence of red tide, Florida waters are worse than ever before. So bad that Governor Rick Scott recently declared a state of emergency and is finding funding in several Florida counties to combat the slime.
This is very bad news for the residents who recently moved to Florida to escape the cooler weather. With about 63% of people moving to a new community at least once during their lives, Florida is often a top choice for retirees and those looking for a change of scenery. But people who have small businesses along the coastline are suffering immensely. After all, if the locals aren’t even trekking to the beaches, tourists aren’t going to either.
Residents are not only dealing with horrible stenches from the algae but are suffering health consequences as well. And while about 34% of people are looking to avoid plumbing or electrical problems when buying a home, people moving to or visiting Florida are going to have much more to worry about if the red tide problem isn’t taken care of. Because of this, many residents and organizations are demanding that the government take action. And fortunately, scientists are testing a new solution that may be the answer to the red tide problem.
Researchers in Sarasota say they have a machine that may prove to be beneficial in fighting off the toxic algae. The machine is called the “Ozone Treatment System” and it can process 300 gallons of water each minute. When it processes the water, it breaks it down, ridding it of toxins by injecting it with ozone, and then pumps out clean water.
Scientists at Mote already use the toxic water treatment system to fight off red tide at their tanks in Sarasota County. So they’ve started to test in on bigger bodies of water in hopes that it can help other areas of the state as well.
There is a good chance that with the cooler weather fall will bring the red tide will disperse. But until then, residents and vacationers are still dealing with the harmful effects the toxic sludge has brought to Florida.