Floating island project receives major EPA award

20 June 2013

USEPA: FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE June 6, 2013

Stennis Space Center, MS – The Gulf of Mexico Program recently announced Martin Ecosystem, LLC will receive a Second Place 2013 Gulf Guardian Award in the Business/Industry Category. The awards ceremony will be held on June 26, 2013, at the Tampa Bay Grand Hyatt beginning at 6PM.

The BioHaven® Floating Treatment Wetland (BFTW) project at Elayn Hunt Correctional was done to determine how this new innovative water treatment tool could remove unwanted nutrients from wastewater prior to discharge to the environment. The BFTW accomplished this goal and in addition has helped the wastewater treatment facility achieve and maintain compliance with their permit. In the five years prior to the implementation of this project and launching of the BFTWs into the wastewater system, the facility had an average of 10 noncompliance reports. Following the installation of BFTWs non-compliance events have been reduced to 1 or less per year.

BFTWs also have demonstrated the ability to remove 74% of Chemical Oxygen Demand (COD), 35% of Ammonia, and 29% of Phosphate. Dissolved oxygen has also improved in the pond. Nutrient impact to downstream organisms and the environment has been greatly reduced.

BFTW Technology is designed around the same principles as a naturally occurring wetland. The man-made “floating islands” provide an optimal habitat for microbial and plant species. Similar to a wetland, the plants and microbes improve water quality. Unlike natural wetlands, they offer enhanced microbial growth by expanding available underwater surface area; i.e. microbial habitat. The result is a new and strategic means to achieve a concentrated wetland effect. Along with the nutrient removal processes, BFTWs also provide ancillary benefits for water treatment. They immediately increase retention time as the flow of water is “redirected” through or around the BFTWs and the physical embodiment of the BFTWs also physically traps solids within the water column.

The Gulf of Mexico Program initiated the Gulf Guardian awards in 2000 as a way to recognize and honor the businesses, community groups, individuals, and agencies that are taking positive steps to keep the Gulf healthy, beautiful and productive. First, second and third place awards are given in seven categories: individual, business/industry, youth environmental education, civic/nonprofit organizations, cultural diversity/environmental justice, partnership and bi-national efforts.

“The Gulf Guardian Award winners have made great achievements in restoring and protecting freshwater and marine ecosystems in the Gulf of Mexico watershed,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “EPA is pleased to recognize their collaborative work in providing solutions to coastal habitats and communities.”

The Gulf of Mexico Program began in 1988 to protect, restore, and maintain the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem in economically sustainable ways. The Gulf of Mexico Program is underwritten by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and is a non-regulatory, inclusive consortium of state and federal government agencies and representatives of the business and agricultural community, fishing industry, scientists, environmentalists, and community leaders from all five Gulf States. The Gulf Program seeks to improve the environmental health of the Gulf in concert with economic development

Ben Scaggs, Director of the Gulf of Mexico Program said, “Given all the incredible challenges that the Gulf has faced over the last several years and the work that has continued with strength and vigor despite what sometime seem like overwhelming obstacles, it is difficult to adequately and succinctly express the community value of the awards and the role they play in reminding us of what yet needs to be done while giving us all the energy and optimism to stay the course:.

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