A Long-Term Environmental and Economic Enhancement Strategy for Removal, Recovery, and Exportation as Value Added Product(s) of Phosphorus Imported and Stored as Rogue (Legacy) Phosphorus in the KOEEA[1] Using Managed Aquatic Plant Systems (MAPS)


E. Allen Stewart III P.E.

August 23,2018



Keep it coming, there is plenty of room

Keep it coming, I believe there is plenty of room

The University of Florida Water Institute in a 2015 report  (see reference button at end of Blog) stated that there is 110,000 metric tons of  legacy (rogue) phosphorus in the Lake Okeechobee Watershed, enough to release 500 metric tons per year into the Lake for the next 200 years!! If this does not shock those responsible for “restoring” the Everglades, then one must suspect  corruption, denial or a clandestine eagerness to sacrifice the ecological stability of the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades in exchange for short-term profit, without any consideration of posterity. Perhaps it might be all of these. In the report the Water Institute notes that  “Beyond existing and planned approaches, the substantial reservoir of legacy (rogue) phosphorus in the Northern[2]Everglades watersheds will necessitate new and more aggressive strategies to combat the mobility of phosphorus.” The message could not be clearer—develop and implement new strategies and methods for resolving the growing phosphorus problem if the goal is to achieve anything resembling Everglades’ restoration or protection of the coastal estuaries


One day in early May of this year (2018), I woke up, grabbed my traditional cup of coffee and looked out across Charlotte Harbor from my back deck. It was one of those calm days when the water reflects the clouds, creating a mirage at the horizon line. Typically, I love days like this, for it makes it easier to kayak the six miles from my home on the “East Wall” of the Harbor to Cape Haze on the “West Wall.” However, as I looked closer, I noticed a few dead fish floating on the surface, and my first thought was red tide.[3]

It is unusual for red tide to come this far east into Charlotte Harbor, and I feared this was indication that the summer of 2018 could be another bad year for Florida’s Southwest Coast, perhaps as bad, or worse, than 2016 when the disruption caused by red tide was exacerbated by excessive discharges from Lake Okeechobee through the Caloosahatchee[4] (River of the Calusa) into the estuaries just south of my home on Charlotte Harbor.

Associated with the Caloosahatchee discharges was a bloom of potentially toxic cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).


Unfortunately, my fears of a repeat of 2016 proved to be well founded. By late July 2018, not only was the red tide in full force in much of Southwest Florida, but the Army Corps of Engineer’s diversionary discharges from Lake Okeechobee had been continued, and it was not long before the cyanobacterial blooms developed not only within the discharges and also within Lake Okeechobee itself.

Not surprisingly, the events of 2018 have incited a public outcry. Social media has become a cauldron of outrage, acrimony, and accusations, typically accompanied by pictures of dead fish, manatees, dolphins, turtles, or disturbing pictures of canals enveloped in globs of blue-green algae. While it is certainly understandable to be upset, it has been my experience that outrage, acrimony, and accusations can attract attention, but they need to be set aside when it is time to solve the problems. Besides, who should we blame?


  • Congress for failing to fully fund the reservoirs and treatment systems planned for the implementation of the    Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP)?

  • The state Legislature and Governor for providing insufficient funding of environmental programs and for dragging their feet in funding the southern reservoir in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA)?

  • The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for what many believe is flawed management of water within Lake Okeechobee and an ambivalence towards water quality issues? They claim " Water Quality Improvement is not the project objective or within the existing authority of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."(see reference button at end of Blog)

  • The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) with their politically appointed board establishing priorities which seem to favor special moneyed interests, such as the sugar cane Industry?

  • The sugar cane industry, with its political clout and its efforts to protect its own short-term interests at the expense of the Everglades National Park and the coastal economies?

  • The EPA and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP), whose restrictions and regulations at times appear to fall short of protecting the environment?

  • The USDA and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS), who some claim favor agriculture at the expense of our environment?

  • We, the citizens of Florida (including myself) and the rest of the United States who elected people into government who withheld funds and facilitated these environmentally disruptive events and strategies?

  • Our local governments, whom we (including myself) also elect, whose development management plans seem to cater to short-term financial benefits, without long-term considerations?

  • The citizens of the region, who insist on having highly manicured, fertilized lawns and a golf course on every corner, and who often resist fertilizer ordinances and who do not want to pay the extra money needed to abandon their septic tanks for higher treatment options?

  • Environmental activist groups which are often recalcitrant and some believe are driven more by emotionalism than by science, economic awareness, or political sensitivity?

  • X Or all of the above   

I would check that last item. Pogo the Possum, created by Walt Kelly[5], said it best:


It has been my experience that complaining, and accusing, is easier than developing

and implementing real solutions. Being a practitioner is harder than being a critic, but

it is so much more meaningful. Admittedly, I am not immune to being overly critical

on occasion. In fact, someone offered a comment about my earlier Blog

(The Rogue Phosphorus Conundrum in Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades),

suggesting that I spent far too much time analyzing what was wrong with how we manage and assess the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades Ecological Amalgamation (KOEEA) and too little time offering any practical fixes.

Well, I intend to correct that in this Blog. I will tell you that my suggestions are somewhat “outside the box.” But they are sound scientifically and economically. Political feasibility may at first be questioned, but I insist that with the will, an innovative spirit, and an abundance of patience, political compatibility is possible.

There may be some short-term actions such as fine bubble aeration, ozonation, adsorptive materials, or expanding vegetative shading, which might offer some immediate relief from the impacts of the cyanobacterial blooms of 2018; I will leave the short-term efforts to others more familiar with such technologies. What I am proposing is a sustainable long-term solution involving aggressive, innovative, comprehensive strategies oriented around Managed Aquatic Plant Systems or MAPS. (See previous Blog: Managed Aquatic Plant Systems (MAPS)—A Strategy for Phosphorus Removal and Recovery within the Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades Ecological Amalgamation [KOEEA]).

Managed Aquatic Plant Systems involve the application of agriculture through active cultivation of select aquatic plants to facilitate high rates of nutrient removal and recovery. If carefully developed and applied, MAPS could play a critical role in the management of phosphorus within the KOEEA. They can also offer an opportunity for synergy between the public and private sectors, similar to what occurred during the “Space Race” of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s.

To refresh your memory, see the discussion on MAPS. (see reference button at end of Blog). In this discussion MAPS is described as follows: 

“Managed Aquatic Plant Systems (MAPS) represent a variant of typical agriculture, for the primary intent is not to maximize productivity of the targeted crop as with conventional agriculture, but rather to maximize reduction of pollutants from an impaired water source. In other words, MAPS operations do not involve adjustment of nutrient levels in the feed water to ensure high levels of crop production and quality; rather, they involve adjustment of crop selection and operational strategies to ensure high rates of nutrient reduction from the raw feed water, such as a nutrient enriched, impaired surface water. With conventional agriculture, the crop is the primary product; with MAPS, enhanced water quality is the primary product. This approach represents a significant paradigm shift from the general acceptance of agriculture as a net pollutant contributor to the reality that there are forms of agriculture that can offer substantial net pollutant removal and recovery.”

Before getting into the details of the proposed MAPS strategy, I believe it would be helpful to provide a quick review of a 2015 assessment of issues and programs germane to the implementation of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) by the University of Florida Water Institute. (see reference button at end of Blog) .The report is entitled Options to Reduce High Volume Freshwater Flows to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries and Move More Water from Lake Okeechobee to the Southern Everglades. It is an independent review of past actions, present plans, and future needs for environmental protection and restoration of the KOEEA, with emphasis upon existing, planned, and suggested future programs for water quantity management and nutrient management—particularly phosphorus. The authors are primarily scientists--some with administrative experience--and one attorney. Combined, they have many decades of meaningful experience with environmental issues in Florida, and they have been leaders in objective investigation of the KOEEA.  This report is the most comprehensive and unbiased evaluation of the KOEEA programs I have read, and I encourage anyone who has questions about the veracity of any information related to the KOEEA to look to this report for clear, truthful, and complete explanations and analyses.

While this is largely a report built around science and applied science, it does not lack in candor regarding failings in the administrative implementation of CERP, as noted from the following excerpts:

 “One of the most significant and related barriers to Everglades restoration success has been the lack of a sustained commitment of human and financial resources by both State and Federal partners.”

“Increased and sustained State and Federal funding is critical to provide additional water storage and treatment before the system becomes so degraded that major attributes reach tipping points that cannot be reversed.”

Regarding water storage, the authors suggest that measures beyond those associated with the existing CERP program will be required to reduce flows from Lake Okeechobee and the river watersheds to the northern estuaries (Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie); to sustain required flow during the dry season; and to ensure the Everglades receives sufficient seasonal flow of high- quality water. Among other measures, they recommend timely implementation of the Caloosahatchee (C-43) and St. Lucie (C-44) reservoirs, as well as associated water storage projects in the St. Lucie/Indian River watershed. In addition, they emphasize the need for water storage both north and south of Lake Okeechobee of over 1,000,000-acre feet; the installation of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) Wells; some type of floodplain reclamation; and consideration of developing deep-well disposal capacity for emergency diversions of excess flows. They imply that significant acreages of the EAA will need to be procured to facilitate these recommendations and to ensure high level of phosphorus reduction before release to the Everglades, including the water conservation areas.

With political will, these water storage measures can be expedited and completed. But water storage expansion alone is not going to protect the Everglades or the northern estuaries from pollution—particularly pollution associated with excess phosphorus. And the issue of phosphorus control is even more challenging. The Lake Okeechobee watershed is saturated with accumulated phosphorus—what is often called legacy phosphorus, but which I prefer to call rogue phosphorus. The seriousness of this phosphorus dilemma is fully recognized by the scientists who compiled the 2015 UF Water Institute report:

“Phosphorus that remains in the watershed and is stored in soils is considered a legacy pool that can contribute to overall P load even after P imports are decreased.”

“Thus, legacy (rogue) P in the Lake Okeechobee watershed could sustain contemporary P loading rates, i.e. 500 metric tons per year, for more than two centuries.”

“Beyond existing and planned approaches, the substantial reservoir of legacy (rogue) phosphorus in the Northern Everglades watersheds[6] will necessitate new and more aggressive strategies to combat the mobility of phosphorus.”

The message could not be clearer—develop and implement new strategies and methods for resolving the growing phosphorus problems if you wish to achieve anything resembling Everglades’ restoration or protection of the coastal estuaries.

And it must be recognized that this rogue phosphorus is ubiquitous. It comes not only from agriculture, industry, and other commercial enterprises, but also from septic tanks, wastewaters -- even highly treated wastewaters-- atmospheric fallout, urban runoff of fertilizers and other stormwater sources.

Over the years, the managing agencies have generally considered storage of phosphorus in soils as treatment and removal. It is not! Treatment and removal includes the actual capture of phosphorus and making it inaccessible to the ecosystem in which it was present, either by removal from the watershed or verifiable long-term sequestration.

Phosphorus management at the present time is largely done through passive wetland systems called Stormwater Treatment Areas or STAs as discussed in my earlier Blog (The Rogue Phosphorus Conundrum in Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades). It is recognized that STAs as they are operated now do not remove, but rather, store phosphorus. The insistence by those who manage CERP that storage is equivalent to treatment and removal is partly responsible for the rogue phosphorus conundrum --a problem illustrated in the cartoon shown as a lead-in to his Blog. So what are the alternatives?

To manage phosphorus, the KOEEA needs to be brought into a state in which phosphorus imports are equal--or nearly equal-- to exports—and this includes internally generated (rogue) phosphorus. If we do not plan and develop a means of balancing imports and exports, natural stresses will do this for us by releasing excesses either to the Everglades or to the Northern Estuaries, or both. Eventually, as noted in the 2015 UF Water Institute report--“the system becomes so degraded that major attributes reach tipping points that cannot be reversed.” Those “major attributes” include tourism, biodiversity, property values, fisheries, and protection of human health. This is a dire warning offered by real scientists. Remember the Humpty Dumpty Axiom:

Rejecting, ignoring, or denying science does not eliminate the inevitability of its influence. Any laws, rules, comprehensive plans, regulations, codes, policies, orders, mandates, or directives based on a lack of scientific understanding will over the long term likely cost society more than the money these actions were originally designed to save. 

Managed Aquatic Plant Systems are not unknown to the SFWMD, FDEP, or the FDACS. The SFWMD investigated MAPS through a series of projects from 2003 through 2011. While the early projects performed well, a full-scale 10 MGD, Algal Turf Scrubber® (AAF-MAPS) built in 2008 in the Taylor Creek Basin failed to provide expected performance because of a toxin detected in Taylor Creek. This toxin retarded production of the attached algal biomass, which was verified through a 2012 study by FDEP. This investigation is available here for review.                         (see reference button at end of Blog). While the nature and source of this toxin was never identified, it was determined that the toxin could be eliminated through vascular plant systems, such as FAP-MAPS and STAs.

Based upon the Taylor Creek MAPS experience and other factors, SFWMD decided to not pursue the MAPS approach. They have, however, come to recognize that aquatic plant cultivation, particularly as floating aquatic plants such as the water hyacinth, can offer high rates of phosphorus reduction. They have incorporated floating aquatic plants into two technologies that do not yet include active harvesting and product development. The first involves the use of water hyacinths or other wetland plants to enhance the efficiency of chemical precipitation—a technology they call Hybrid Wetland Treatment Technology (HWTT). This technology at present does not include a crop recovery component, although there is recycling of chemical floc which tends to improve system cost effectiveness. HWTT could be expanded to include a crop recovery component, and as such, depending upon long-term cost effectiveness, could be incorporated into a MAPS process train.

The second technology is called Floating Aquatic Vegetation Tilling (FAVT), and it is basically a water hyacinth-based system in which the accumulated biomass is tilled directly into the soil. Again, this is not removal but rather storage of phosphorus, and as such would be vulnerable to becoming a contributor to the already extensive rogue phosphorus stores within the watershed.

The development of FAVT gives hint to the reluctance of the agencies to incorporate harvesting and product development into the operational strategy of aquatic plant-based systems. Some time ago, I asked one of the SFWMD managers why they did not incorporate harvesting in their operational program for aquatic plant systems. The reasons given in reply included:

  • Mechanical removal is very expensive and will cause downtime.

  • Mechanical removal of vegetation on a large scale would be disruptive.

  • Harvesting of emergent plants such as cattails in STAs would only remove about 10% of the stored phosphorus.

  • While floating aquatic plants could benefit from routine harvesting, they are not encouraged in STA applications, as they shade out submerged vegetation and can obstruct flow around control structures. [Note they do not harvest the hyacinths,per se, in FAVT.]

  • There are no biomass disposal areas available and viable markets for the biomass have not materialized.

While I am tempted to be critical of the agencies’ recalcitrance related to harvesting and product development, it is somewhat understandable. First of all, their replies are oriented around existing STA operations, not MAPS-type programs. Second, agencies and governments are not in the business of business. Markets, for example, don’t often “materialize.” Rather, they are typically born through entrepreneurial efforts. There was no market for airplanes, cars, or telephones before someone invented the airplane and car and telephone. The inventors saw the market developing as a result of the appeal of their inventions, just as innovative companies like Parabel see a market for protein from aquatic plants because of its appeal in terms of quality and competitive cost.           

Similarly, MAPS products could penetrate markets ranging from livestock feed, to biogas, to paper, to biodegradable plastics, to soil amendments, and to potting soil—just to name a few.

So, how might MAPS be implemented in an objective and minimally disruptive manner? The key, I believe, will rely upon two key strategic policies:

  1. The willingness of the administering agencies, e.g. SFWMD, FDEP, and FDACS, to establish and commit over a period of not less than 50 consecutive years a workable long-term fee structure by which the private sector operating a MAPS enterprise and or affiliated agricultural enterprises, e.g. dairy farming, would be rewarded on a dollar value per pound of phosphorus removed basis.[7] The removal would require validated removal from the KOEEA watershed; and while the fee could be revisited every five years to adjust to economic, technological, and market fluctuations, the commitment would be long term. This model is called Pay-For-Performance.

  2. A willingness for government(s) to establish a public-private partnership through at least three sizable grants of circa $20 million each over a four-year period to refine feasible MAPS Facilities in terms of design efficiency, development of more effective harvesting and initial processing, and perhaps most importantly the determination of the most marketable and valuable products. The grants would be given to three individual development teams from the private sector, similar to how contracts were distributed during the space race. For example, General Dynamics developed the Atlas program, while Martin developed the Titan program in a parallel effort—both of which were successful. This allowed helpful competition and acceleration of technological development. After the development period, each group would propose full-scale implementation, including site selection, process train, production and sales of selected product(s), and a proposed service fee and profit cost sharing structure with the public sector.



An important market available to any operator of large-scale MAPS programs in the KOEEA is the sale of water quality improvement services oriented primarily around phosphorus reduction and its subsequent removal from the KOEEA. If MAPS can remove and recover phosphorus cheaper than the programs presently being implemented, e.g. STAs, then it would be fiscally advantageous for the agencies assigned responsibility for meeting water quality targets (e.g., TMDL), to contract with the MAPS operator. Such arrangements would be through Pay-For-Performance contracts. In other words, the SFWMD or whoever is the administering agency(ies) would pay a negotiated fee for each pound of phosphorus documented as recovered and removed. The MAPS business model then would be developed around two income sources—product sales and Phosphorus Removal Fees through the Pay-For-Performance contract, the dynamics being similar to that shown schematically in Figure 1.

A Pay-For-Performance model was tried a few years ago by the St. Johns River Water Management District. Their contract provisions, however, required full capitalization by the private sector and a guaranteed operating contract of only five years. This is too short of a contract period to facilitate effective amortization of capital costs. Also, the short time period discourages investors who might otherwise be willing to endure costs associated with start-up challenges in return for long-term profits. Two things which would help make a Pay-For Performance contract more successful would be 1) the extension of contract period to at least 50 years, and preferably in perpetuity, even if the fee structure is re-visited every five years, and 2) providing incentives such as grants for demonstration and facility design and product development efforts (see the next subsection)

What is interesting about this model is that it could be of real benefit to existing agricultural enterprises. Take, for example, the dairy industry. Suppose the MAPS units were able to provide all of the phosphorus needs of a dairy through either specially designed feed blends or through soil amendments used to grow feed crops within the watershed. This would mean the dairy farmers would eliminate importation of phosphorus and would get credit for the phosphorus within their milk. Milk is sold by the hundred weight, or cwt. Pricing presently oscillates around $15-$20/cwt. Milk contains about 0.091 pounds of phosphorus per hundred weight. If the Pay-For-Performance fee were $60/lb. of phosphorus removed, then the dairy would receive another $5.45/cwt for its milk, or an increase of about 27%. This would not be a subsidy, but rather a fee for services. Properly implemented, this could incentivize both MAPS operators and the participating enterprises, such as dairy.

The secret here, of course, is the development of MAPS products that meet the dairy’s needs at a price lower than competing external products. The collection of a fee for phosphorus removed would provide a competitive benefit to the MAPS product.

So, how do MAPS costs compare to STA costs on a unit price-per-pound of phosphorus removed basis? In an economic analysis conducted by the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS),[8] a MAPS system known as an Algal Turf Scrubber® or ATS™ was compared on a 50-year present-worth basis with existing STA systems in the KOEEA on a cost-per-kilogram of phosphorus removed.                                             The STA costs averaged $656/kg ($298/lb.) of phosphorus removed from the water and stored in the sediments, while the ATS™ costs where under $100/kg (under $45/lb.) of phosphorus removed and recovered. While the costs for the ATS™ based upon more recent experience with full-scale ATS™ systems in Indian River County may be somewhat higher than that reported in the IFAS review, they can be expected to remain lower than STA costs, and with time as new designs and products are developed, the costs could continue to decline as they are offset by higher product sales and more efficient operations.


I remember someone trying to explain the dynamics of developing innovative ideas into valuable products or services by noting that the first airplane was not a 747. To expand on this thought, John Stuart Mill observed that “error is an important contributor to knowledge.” The implication, of course, is that a good idea and its first successful application is but the initial effort, to be followed by a series of refinements that allow the idea to mature and hence yield more efficient, more practical, and more expansive products. And this refinement process takes patience and is continual.

My older brother was an engineer involved in the space industry on the private side from the very beginnings in the 1950s. He was involved, quite often as a Lead Engineer, on several historic missions including John Glenn’s first American orbit; Apollo Missions; and the Space Shuttle flights. After he retired, he wrote his memoirs,[9] and in them he made it very clear that in the early period they were almost starting from scratch. It was the collection of talent and the political will that made our space program so successful—and yes, there were mistakes along the way. But can you imagine where we would be technologically without this effort?

So, I must ask, is protection of our environment and restoration of places like the KOEEA any less important than the need to beat the Soviet Union in space? MAPS technologies are a good idea, and they have been and are being successfully applied. But there are developments and refinements that are needed to optimize effectiveness if it is going to be successfully applied within the KOEEA. And like the Space Race Technology, an investment in MAPS will open up new paradigms in agriculture and water resource management, and it will generate valuable spin-offs, such as learning how to produce usable protein at rates several times greater than the crops we now rely upon -- at lower prices.

There may be several pathways for advancing development of MAPS-type technologies for application within the KOEEA. MAPS as applied to this discussion means any operation that removes phosphorus from the water column and incorporates it into a recoverable material—including but not limited to aquatic plants—and then converting this recovered material into a product of some value which would be sold either as an export outside the KOEEA boundary or as an internally recycled product which replaces phosphorus that would typically be imported. It is reasonable then to expand the concept of Managed Aquatic Plant Systems (MAPS) to a broader category of Phosphorus Removal Recovery and Recycle or Export Systems (P3RES). I will continue to reference these systems as MAPS for the sake of continuity and because much of the existing technology includes aquatic plants, but the reader should understand the discussion applies to the broader category of P3RES—which will typically fall into one of the following approaches.

  • Biological removal through uptake or capture by organisms such as aquatic plant communities which can then be removed from the watershed as a product.

  • Chemical precipitation/adsorption and recovery and export of the product.

  • Dredging and soil removal to be removed from the KOEEA as a product.

  • If it can be shown conclusively that phosphorus can be permanently sequestered and unavailable for biological uptake for at least the 50-year cycle, then such sequestration may be considered export.

  • A combination of two or more of these.

What is envisioned as a reasonable development plan is 3 four-year grants for approximately $20 million each. The requirements for securing these grants would be identical for all three participants that would design, build, and operate a system which by the end of four years demonstrate the following:

  • A practical, functional system designed and optimized to offer cost effectiveness on a 50-year present-worth basis, including land costs.

  • Operation of this system for a continuous period of not less than 2 years to accomplish as an annual average for the final year of at least 70% removal of incoming phosphorus from the influent from Lake Okeechobee, with the physical recovery of at least 70% of this removed phosphorus.

  • Development of cost effective means of harvesting and recovery of biomass and other related process products and preconditioning of the biomass and related products through chopping, thickening, mechanical dewatering, draining, gradation, separation, and similar efforts in preparation of processing, storing, packaging, testing, and distributing the final product(s).

  • Development of process trains which effectively yields the final product(s) in a form amenable to testing, packaging, and distribution, and identification of the nature and size of available market to include assessment of competitive product(s) value.

  • A test market program shall be conducted to determine product acceptability and competitive position.

  • Engineering of efficient low-head, high-volume pumping systems which can deliver design flows on a 24-hour, 7-day-per-week basis to include serious consideration of using alternate renewable energy; and to include but not be limited to photovoltaic solar energy.

  • A proposal for a Pay-For Performance fee and suggested contract provisions which incorporate profit sharing from product(s) sales with administering agencies.

  • Assessment of impact on local economy and environment in terms of job losses/creation, energy consumption, water and other utility demands, local service needs, infrastructure demands, balance of environmental demands and benefits, influence on property values, beneficial interaction with local farms and businesses, impact on tax income to local governments, displacement of competition, etc.

A general project strategy chart is shown as Figure 2. At the end of each grant, all three participants will be eligible for establishing full-scale MAPS facilities, each to be 1,000 to 1,500 acres with flows around 100 MGD for each facility. Each participant’s proposal for full-scale implementation will be reviewed by the administering agencies and an independent committee of professionals collectively familiar with the scientific, environmental, economic, and business aspects of the proposal. Contractual strategies for full-scale systems may be:


Strategy 1: Private sector Design, Build, and Operate (DBO) with the Ownership and initial Capital Costs through the administering agencies or other public sources.

Strategy 2: Private sector Design, Build, Own and Operate (DBOO) with all Facility Costs borne by the private sector.

Strategy 3: Private-Public Cost-Sharing for all Capital and Engineering Costs with Ownership and Operation by the private sector.

Strategy 4: Public sector responsible for all aspects of the facility to contract with private sector to take ownership of harvested, pre-processed material. Subsequently, the private sector contractor shall install, operate, and maintain all units required to convert the pre-processed materials to products of value to be marketed either as export items (outside KOEEA) or internally recycled to displace imported phosphorus.

The initial implementation of full-scale modules should be limited to three to six total (3,000-9,000 acres) to allow objective assessment of performance and environmental impact. Once this assessment has been completed after 2-4 years of operation, phasing of the remaining modules (a total of about 70) could be completed over the next 10 to 20 years. Commensurate with this development should be the construction of the necessary water storage units.


The strategy as presented here is intended to generate consideration of this approach and a preliminary assessment of its overall feasibility. Obviously, there is a great deal of detail missing, some of which can only be clearly determined during implementation through the adaptive management process. The overall program may take 20 to 30 years to complete, but beneficial impact should be noted much sooner. It is almost certain that fisheries will immediately respond favorably to the highly oxygenated waters returned from the MAPS to Lake Okeechobee, even during the four development projects. I believe our posterity will be happy with our efforts—and that is what this is all about. Right?

My next Blog will include a more detailed review of aquatic plant based products--the state-of-the art as well as potential future products. Included will be a discussion of the processing and marketing challenges which could be confronted.  

[1] The Kissimmee-Okeechobee-Everglades Ecological Amalgamation or KOEEA is my term for the extensive watershed which connects the Kissimmee River, Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. See

[2] The Northern Everglades refers to the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee Watershed, as well as the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River watersheds, and the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).

[3] Red tide is the name given to a bloom of certain species of the algal group known as dinoflagellates. In Florida the predominant species is Karenia brevis. These algae generate a group of neurotoxins known as brevetoxins. At high concentrations brevetoxins will kill marine life including fish, turtles, crustaceans, and large sea mammals such as manatees and dolphins. They also impact the human respiratory system, causing coughing and breathing difficulty. When the K. brevis concentrations are very high, they turn the water reddish-brown—hence the term red tide.

[4] “Hatchee” means river in the Mikasuki (Hitchiti) language, hence Caloosahatchee River would be redundant.

[5] Walt Kelly was a cartoonist who created the character Pogo the Possum in the early 1940’s. Pogo was the central figure of a group of characters inhabiting the South’s Okefenokee Swamp who offered somewhat satirical political commentary relevant to the period. Many of his simple but pertinent observations still have relevance in today’s political climate. 

[6] The Northern Everglades refers to the Kissimmee River and Lake Okeechobee Watershed, as well as the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River watersheds, and the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).

[7] Other pollutants such as nitrogen, high levels of chlorophyll-a, or suspended solids could also be incorporated into the fee structure. Rewards might also be included for increasing dissolved oxygen levels. 

[8] Sano, Daisuke, A. Hodges, and R. Degner (2004) Economic Analysis of Water Treatment for Phosphorus Removal in Florida Document FE576, Food and Resource Economics Department, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, University of Florida, Gainesville

[9] David W. Stewart (2016) Seeking Success CreateSpace Independent Publishing. ISBN-10: 1540417182