July 30, 2020

The group and nonprofit have partnered to bring state-of-the-art water treatment technology to locations throughout the State

Sustainable Water Investment Group, or SWIG, and North Florida Land Trust have partnered to combat the nutrient pollution problems that have plagued the State of Florida. The group and nonprofit are working to bring the next generation of water treatment technology to the State. For decades, algal blooms have severely affected the water quality in Florida whose economy and tourism industry depends on clean water.

“The process developed by SWIG has the potential to be a real solution to reduce nitrogen, phosphorus and other pollutants that have made their way into our creeks, lakes, rivers and oceans,” said Jim McCarthy, president of NFLT. “Sportfishing alone is an $8 billion industry in our state, couple that with the tourism lost when algal blooms arise and you see that tacking this problem now is critical. We are working closely with SWIG to identify areas where this technology can really make a difference for our environment and, in turn, for our economy.”

SWIG uses an engineered natural treatment to remove phosphorus, nitrogen and other pollutants on a smaller footprint than other technologies and without the use of chemicals. Using no chemicals makes this an environmentally safe alternative for the removal of nutrient pollution from local waterways. The system is what is considered “marsh ready” meaning if a hurricane or flooding occurred there would not be any contamination issues. Also, the system can remove nutrient pollutants at higher rates than other treatment technologies.

“Our system can help remediate areas like Lake Okeechobee, the Kissimmee River and the Indian River Lagoon where nutrient pollution is rampant,” said Dr. Bill Lucas, SWIG member. “Removal of both phosphorus and nitrogen from these watersheds is essential to combat the detrimental algal blooms. The technology to reduce both nitrogen and phosphorus is available and can be scaled and tailored to fit wherever treatment is needed.”

Currently, SWIG is engaged in a project in Clay County with the St. Johns River Water Management District to remove phosphorus from wastewater discharged into Doctors Lake. The results show over a 90 percent removal of phosphorus, while also removing nitrogen in the effluent.

SWIG has also developed a complementary system, called the Organic Nitrogen Elimination (ONE), that removes nitrogen at higher rates than most conventional ways through a non-toxic and passive process. Both systems could help governments fulfill the federal requirements to remove nitrogen and phosphorus from their waterways.

The Clay County project is SWIG’s first in Florida. The group has led successful treatment projects in the northeast United States and Asia.

About North Florida Land Trust

North Florida Land Trust is a not-for-profit organization that seeks to protect the natural resources, historic places and working lands (farms and ranches) throughout north Florida. Founded in 1999, NFLT has preserved tens of thousands of acres of land through donation or purchase of land as well as conservation easements.  NFLT is funded largely by private and corporate contributions and works closely with willing landowners and public agencies at all levels of government, not-for-profit partners, and foundations. 

About SWIG

SWIG works with public and private clients to solve complex water quality challenges and meet regulatory requirements. SWIG is led by three partners with more than three decades of experience developing, financing, managing and implementing complex water and ecosystem improvement projects. They develop turn-key solutions for their clients which include water management districts, utilities, cities, counties, and states. They supervise design and construction and provide long-term operational management for each project. More information can be found at swig-llc.com/