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Friday, Mar 27, 2015

Weeki Wachee Springs algae removal under way

Hernando Today staff report

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WEEKI WACHEE - Southwest Florida Water Management District is partnering with the Rotary Clubs of Spring Hill Central and Brooksville to remove Lyngbya algae from the waters of Weeki Wachee Springs.

This coordinated effort will take place on Saturday, July 20 from 7:30 to 10 a.m. at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, located at the intersection of State Road 50 and Highway 19 in Spring Hill.

Volunteers using special rakes will stand in water up to waist deep and remove the algae. The algae will then be placed onto kayaks and a pontoon boat and taken on land to be used for fertilizer at other locations.

"This project is important for the district to maintain prior restoration efforts and ensure those restored areas continue to grow and thrive," said Chris Anastasiou, senior scientist with SWFWMD. "This effort is important because it gives ownership of this world-class resource to the local community."

In 2009, SWFWMD completed a restoration project at Weeki Wachee, where divers removed about 6,130 cubic yards of sediment from the spring vent to the vicinity of the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park's boat dock. Divers used hand vacuums created for this project to remove muck, Lyngbya and trash.

Lyngbya is an invasive algae that grows and spreads rapidly. It attaches itself to plants and the bottoms of water bodies, forming large mats. These mats grow and then break off, spreading to other areas. Lyngbya crowds out native vegetation and disrupts the natural filtration process as well as decreases the amount of good habitat for fish nurseries.

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