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
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.
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 800,000 clams in the Bay by the end of 2019.
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, Click here.
D. Many of our stormwater holding ponds are inefficient in removing nutrients from the water before it flows into other waterways or Sarasota Bay. START is partnering with Progressive Water Resources, a local hydrology company, to test a Passive Nutrient Media (PNM) process that has been successful in removing significant amounts of nutrients from a reclaimed water system. The current test is using the PNM process in a neighborhood’s stormwater holding ponds. The test is expected to be completed by the late fall of 2019. Pending favorable results, START plans to bring this process to other neighborhoods to help clean up their stormwater holding ponds before they flow into the Bay.
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
- Event Brochure
- PSA’s for local TV stations
- Red Tide & You PowerPoint presentation
The Red Tide & You PowerPoint presentation answers the following five questions:
- What causes red tide blooms?
- Why are they so prevalent here on the Sun Coast?
- What is being done to control red tide?
- What is START doing to control excess nutrients in our waterways?
- 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.