Waters along the western coast of Florida and Tampa Bay have recently seen an increase in red tide, an overpopulation of nuisance algae that kills fish. Nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous fuel the microorganism that causes red tide, and some suspect a recent release of contaminated water into the bay has contributed to unusually large bloom that is killing sea life.
Tampa Bay Water is closely monitoring the situation, as it could affect our seawater desalination facilities. Fortunately, the desalination plant is currently offline by design, and summer rains mean it likely won’t be needed to augment water supply until November or December. But while the desalination plant is capable of purifying water with red tide, the very delicate reverse osmosis membranes would need to be cleaned more often, and that would impact operations.
At the suggestion from Tampa Bay Water board member and St. Petersburg Council Member Darden Rice, Tampa Bay Water will send a letter to Governor Ron DeSantis’ office to request permit enforcement of foreseeable sources of pollution to protect our waters.
“Any time one of our water supply sources has the potential to be affected, it puts us on high alert,” said Tampa Bay Water Board Chairman Dave Eggers.