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Longboat Key Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 1 year ago

Longboat Task Force plans red tide presentation at weekend meeting

Group hopes to get ball rolling on a coordinated effort against the outbreaks.
by: Eric Garwood Managing Editor

The Longboat Key Revitalization Task Force on Saturday plans to roll out a presentation to the members of the Federation of Longboat Key Condominiums that it hopes could be the first step in a coordinated fight against red tide.

The Task Force’s Tom Freiwald and Lenny Landau will deliver the program titled The Red Tide Crisis: Will Paradise Survive to the Federation’s members-only meeting at 9:30 a.m. Saturday at The Players Club, 1401 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

"There couldn’t be an issue more important for us to look into,’’ Freiwald said.

Saturday’s presentation comes in two parts.

In the first, Landau, who has analyzed the scientific findings regarding red tide, will deliver some new conclusions he’s formulated about the phenomena.

In the second part, Freiwald will come to the conclusion that one of the biggest obstacles to solving the problem isn’t necessarily one of science, but rather the management of it.

“The solution to move forward isn’t to spend more money on new research, but rather focus on coordination with a central authority,’’ he said.

Freiwald points to the Chesapeake Bay as a case study of a similar effort that worked. For years, the bay was polluted, which in turn hurt businesses along its shores. A similar public outcry for coordination drove the federal Environmental Protection Agency to take charge as a single, managing entity. Today, conditions are much improved.

“Someone is accountable,’’ Freiwald said of the difference in approaches.

Freiwald said Longboat Key residents are often deeply connected with stakeholders in a wide-range of disciplines, and the Federation is the largest organization on the island. Presenting to its members is a solid first step in getting the idea out there and, eventually, in front of people who can help make it a reality.

Southwest Florida’s most recent outbreak of red tide has persisted for months up and down the gulf coast. In Sarasota and Manatee county, effects spiked in late July and early August.

Businesses reported year-over-year losses in revenue as visitors and residents stayed away from the foul smelling beaches. Local governments spent thousands clearing away dead sea life from beaches and bayside canals.

Even now, water-sample analysis shows sporadic upticks in levels of karena brevis, the micro-organism responsible for red tide outbreaks.

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