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Scientists See Progress On Nitrogen Filters For Algal Blooms

Jordan Bowman
An algal bloom from Flanders Bay at a Stony Brook University lab. Algal blooms deplete oxygen from the water and lead to fish kills. Some also release toxins that are harmful to people and pets.

Scientists are excited about a possible low-cost solution to the nitrogen pollution problem in Suffolk. They discussed their findings at the New York State Center for Clean Water Technology at Stony Brook University Tuesday afternoon.

There they presented their latest work on biofilters, which could replace existing septic systems at a lower cost.

Nitrogen from cesspools and septics cause algal blooms that damage marine habitat and fisheries.

Hal Walker, co-director of the Center, said, “The nitrogen removing biofilters are exciting because they’re really showing a superior performance in terms of nitrogen removal…The better the systems function, the quicker we are going to be able to really solve the nitrogen pollution problem here on Long Island.”

Walker says three biofilters have been installed in Suffolk County, and another six will be installed over the next few months.

“So at the end of the year we should have nine or more of these systems into the ground and really be able to vet this approach.”

The Center also announced an increased focus on removing contaminants such as 1,4-Dioxane from the drinking water supply.

Terry Sheridan is an award-winning audio journalist. As part of his duties as Senior Director of News and Education, he developed a unique and award-winning internship program with the Stony Brook University School of Communications and Journalism, where he is also a lecturer and adjunct professor. He also mentors graduate fellows from the Sacred Heart University Graduate School of Communication, Media, and the Arts.