Tech to improve water quality goes from aquariums to Fort Lauderdale canal

Saltwater aquarium hobbyists use filtration technology with tiny bubbles to keep their tanks clean. On Monday, a crew worked to use the same technology at a Fort Lauderdale canal.

The crew with Clean Waterways used a 30-foot barge to deliver three large protein skimmer apparatuses to the Himmershee canal, a tributary of the New River.

They injected microbubbles near the Southeast Eighth Avenue bridge, north of Las Olas Boulevard, with the goal of producing clean and oxygenated water.

“We are not pioneering the technology; we are pioneering the use of the technology,” said John Loos, the vice president of Clean Waterways, a Fort Lauderdale-based company which he co-founded last year.

Loos said the microbubbles bind to certain pollutants that are pumping through the system. A pump pushes a mixture of air and water and the bubbles come together to form a foam.

“It pulls out fecal matter, blue-green algae, Cyanobacteria — all the nasty stuff that is basically polluting our waterways,” Loos said.

A crew works to improve the water quality in the Himmershee canal on Monday in Fort Lauderdale.

The pollution in Fort Lauderdale worsened after 2019-2020 sewage spills. The state fined the city after reporting 211 million gallons of sewage were spilled. The city worked out a deal to invest it in restoration.

Clean Waterways is performing the two-week pilot program at no cost to the city. There will be regular testing to monitor the progress to see if the program will be extended for two months.

Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis said the canals have been neglected for years. He is among the many who have high hopes for the pilot program so it can be used in other polluted waterways.

“Even before we had the sewage breaks, we realized that the lifeblood of the city is based on our waterways,” Trantalis said. “We’re the Venice of America.”

For more information about the pilot program, call Mike Lambrechts at 954-830-0133 or the city’s 24-hour customer service center at 954-828-8000.

Related link: Documents on the deal between the commission and Clean Waterways

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