What does START do to help reduce excess nutrients in our waterways?

Nutrients in the waterway

START has a three-pronged approach to help reduce excess nutrients:

1.     Policy Makers Contact Program: START stays in contact with federal, state and local policy makers to encourage them to fund nutrient reducing programs including:

A.     Finding a viable solution to keep the polluted releases from Lake Okeechobee out of our waterways

B.     Requesting more funding support for our local governments to be able to upgrade their wastewater treatment plants, convert more septic systems to sewers and upgrade inefficient stormwater holding ponds

Volunteers with oyster bags

2.     In-water Nutrient Control Programs: START forms partnerships with other organizations to install and maintain the following nutrient reduction projects:

A.     Oysters are an important natural nutrient reducing species as they can filter from 9 to 50 gallons of seawater every day. The Gulf Coast Oyster Recycling and Renewal (GCORR) Program saves shells from restaurant diners and transports them to a storage area where they are cured, bagged by volunteers and then placed in local waterways to build new oyster reefs.

Click here -> Learn about the award-winning GCORR program.

Clam seeding

B.     The Southern Quahog clam is native to our waters and is also an important water filtering part of our marine environment. These clams typically can filter from 9 to 12 gallons of water a day, create furrows that promote seagrass growth and are very resistant to red tide. START is in its fourth year as a funding source for Sarasota Bay Watch’s Clam Seeding Program in Sarasota Bay which will have seeded nearly 400,000 clams in the Bay by the end of 2019.

Click here -> For more details about the Clam Seeding environmental program.

Mini reef

C.     There are over 2,000 mini reefs produced by Ocean Habitats, Inc. spread all over Florida. They fit under docks and become home to a variety of filtering sea life that can filter 30,000 gallons of seawater a day. The mini reefs improve water quality in a 12-15 foot radius around the dock area, improve dissolved oxygen by over 30% and attract an array of different fish that feed on the mini reef.  To learn more about mini reefs and how to purchase one for your own dock, Contact Us.

Stormwater holding pondD.    START is partnering with Progressive Water Resources, Inc, a Sarasota based hydrology company, to advance a promising Passive Nutrient Media (PNM) process that has dramatically reduced nutrients in a pilot test of a major neighborhood reclaimed water irrigation system. The test results in the pilot study showed a reduction of both nitrogen and phosphorus by over 70%. When scaled up to include the entire irrigation system, the process will convert 1.5 million gallons of irrigation water to the Advanced Wastewater Treatment (AWT) level. START is preparing educational materials to bring the PNM process to other municipalities and neighborhoods. To learn more about the PNM process, Contact Us.

3.     Public Education Program: START provides a variety of educational materials to inform the community about the importance of reducing excess nutrients in our coastal waters including:

    • Website at start1.org
    • Monthly E-Newsletter
    • Activity Brochure
    • PSA’s for local TV stations
    • Red Tide & You PowerPoint presentation

The Red Tide & You PowerPoint presentation answers the following five questions:

    1. What causes red tide blooms?
    2. Why are they so prevalent here on the Sun Coast?
    3. What is being done to control red tide?
    4. What is START doing to control excess nutrients in our waterways?
    5. How can you help reduce your nutrient footprint that feeds red tide?

To arrange a screening of Red Tide & You for your organization, contact START at Colleen@start1.org.