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Tim Zorc has plan to clean up canal water


County Commissioner Tim Zorc thinks he has found an innovative way to cost-effectively clean up the water in the main relief canal before it empties into the Indian River Lagoon, and he plans to showcase the technology at a lagoon symposium this month.

If his plan is successful, it has the potential to remove huge amounts of lagoon-killing chemicals from the murky canal water and help give the estuary a fighting chance to recover from recent ecological disasters.

Developed by AquaFiber Technologies Corporation, the purification process has been extensively tested over the past five years at Lake Jesup in Seminole County.

AquaFiber’s innovative technology – the company has 26 U.S. and International patents, with eight more pending – employs a process called dissolved air flotation that clarifies water by removing suspended oils and solids. As an added benefit, Zorc says, the process yields a biomass by-product that can be turned into useful products.

A just-issued government report on the Lake Jesup pilot project calls the technology “an important water quality management option that is effective, efficient, environmentally safe and cost-competitive,” and that yields “post-treatment water . . . (that) often met or exceeded drinking water clarity.”

The report concluded that AquaFiber’s  “treatment technologies coupled with other water treatment applications can remove total phosphorous, total nitrogen, total suspended solids and water pollutants effectively, efficiently and safely.”

Zorc says at least 100 million gallons of water pour out of Indian River County's three main relief canals each day. The North and South Canals have turf algae scrubbers processing part of the flow and removing small quantities of nutrients that damage the lagoon. (Each came with a $12 million price tag.) The North Canal's scrubber has been operating for about five years, the South Canal's for only a few months, but there is nothing on the Main Canal.

“If we can clean that Main Canal water with the Lake Jesup technology,” says Zorc, “getting rid of about 70 percent of the phosphorous and nitrogen, it would no longer be adding to the problem, and would cost less.”

Details about AquaFiber’s technology and success at Lake Jesup will be presented at the Second Annual Indian River Lagoon Symposium on March 29.

The event is free and open to everyone, Zorc says. Registration opens at 8:30 a.m. at the County Administration Complex, Building A, 1801 27th Street.  The program is from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.