The Source of Toxic Algae Outbreaks

This pollution is preventable. The key to stopping toxic algae outbreaks is limiting the amount of phospho-rus and nitrogen in Florida’s water bodies. So how does this pollution get into our waters?

Sewage isn’t treated well enough.
Sewage isn’t treated well enough.

Sewage.Even after sterilization and removal of solids, sewage effluent still contains very high levels of phosphorus and nitrogen. Insufficiently treated sewage effluent is often allowed to be discharged directly into rivers or piped into near-shore coastal areas. The result is a ready food source for algae. Even the solid residue of water treatment, known as “sludge” or “biosolids,” contains very high levels of phosphorus and ni-trogen. Often this concentrated sewage sludge residue is spread on vacant farm lands. Rain washes it into rivers and lakes, where it feeds toxic algae outbreaks.

Excess fertilizer runs off into lakes, beaches and rivers.
Excess fertilizer runs off
into lakes, beaches and rivers.

Fertilizer. Floridians use huge amounts of fertilizer to keep their yards green. Florida’s agricultural corporations also apply vast amounts of fertilizer on everything from tomatoes to pine trees. Most fertilizer is applied at the wrong time and in excessive amounts. Most of it is washed off into rivers, lakes and estuar-ies. Fertilizing in the summer rainy season is almost the same as dumping fertilizer directly into the nearest stream. The result is like Miracle-Gro for algae.