The Everglades Foundation has decided to award $10 Million Dollars to a person or persons who come up with a way to remove excess phosphorous from waterways in the United States. The award was announced and published in various news articles including the News-Press. There have been many harmful algal blooms causing pollution and unhealthy waterways as a result of excess phosphorous levels in our waterways. The phosphorous gets into our rivers and lakes after storm runoff which brings fertilizers into our lakes and rivers. Phosphorous also finds its way into our waterways by sewage leakage and animal waste seeping into canals, rivers and tributaries. The Everglades Foundation reports, “The U.S. Environmental protection Agency calls nutrient pollution “one of America’s most widespread, costly and challenging environmental problems …. resulting in serious environmental and human health issues and impacting the economy.” This past summer Lake Erie and nearby Toledo, Ohio witnessed a harmful algal bloom which forced residents in Toledo to stop drinking their water.
Florida has for years been negatively impacted by excess nutrient levels in Lake Okeechobee when water is pumped out of the lake into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers. Water is pumped out of the lake to keep lake levels from becoming too high especially during the rainy season and threatening to flood nearby towns and population centers. The beaches at the other end of the rivers on both coasts in Ft. Myers and Stuart have experienced ugly algal blooms, dead fish and water that cannot be used for swimming or drinking. Phosphorous levels entering the lake from the Kissimmee River has amounts greater than 250-350 parts per thousand. The “Grand Challenge” will award the money to a person or team that can reduce the levels below 40 parts per billion and also use the phosphorous that is removed for agricultural or other useful purposes. The Everglades Foundation has announced they will award the money in 2022.