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Environmentalists Target Excess Phosphorus With $10 Million Prize

Photo courtesy St. Johns Riverkeeper
Photo courtesy St. Johns Riverkeeper

Environmentalists are taking aim at excess phosphorus in Florida waterways and beyond.

The Everglades Foundation is offering $10 million dollars for a cost-effective way of removing the damaging nutrient from freshwater bodies.

The foundation will launch the multi-year, international competition in 2016.

Spokeswoman Maria Garcia says the foundation was moved to action by water releases from Lake Okeechobee that sent polluted water to coastal estuaries.

"That kind of inundated these freshwater estuaries with phosphorus pollution, which then in turn spawned toxic algae blooms, which aside from being smelly are incredibly damaging to the environment and the economy."

Similar blooms in Lake Erie left Toledo without water in 2014, shutting down the city. Phosphorus is common in fertilizers and organic wastes. In large amounts it damages water quality.

The Environmental Protection Agency describes nutrient pollution as among the nation's most challenging and costly environmental problems.

Amy Green covered the environment for WMFE until 2023. Her work included the 2020 podcast DRAINED.