City of Jacksonville Stormwater Pond Study Microbe-Lift Addition to Ponds for Nitrogen Reduction

1.  What is the stormwater pond study?

The City is evaluating the use of microbes in stormwater ponds to reduce the levels of nitrogen in the pond.  The typical stormwater pond is able to achieve a 20% reduction in total nitrogen through conventional means.  The use of microbes could potentially achieve a 60% reduction.

The stormwater pond study is looking at 18 ponds throughout the city and sampling them for a period of 24 months. The first 6 months of sampling will be used as a baseline.  Starting June 25, 2019 and running through June 2020, microbes will be added to 9 of the 18 ponds. Sampling will continue in each of the 18 ponds to see if nitrogen can be further reduced with the use of the microbes over the typical stormwater pond.  The final 6 months of the study is to determine how often microbes would need to be applied to the ponds to achieve the maximum reduction.

2.  What is Microbe-Lift?

Bacteria are nature’s recyclers and Ecological Laboratories produces Microbe-Lift, one of the world’s best bio augmentation products that allow nature to keep up with new, man-made compounds and also concentrations of pollutants that are higher than what would normally occur in nature. This unique microbial product is designed specifically to achieve the goals of aquatic restoration purposes. The microbial based product features safe vegetative and photosynthetic beneficial bacterial, which when introduced to a polluted area, immediately begins to reproduce and to degrade and remove the compounds in the water or soil that cause pollution, and to mitigate its resulting bad odors and damage to the environment.

3.  Why is the City performing the study?

As part of the Lower St. Johns River Basin Management Action Plan, the City is required to make certain levels of reduction in total nitrogen by December 2023.  While the City has made a large number of reductions to date and the St. Johns River has made improvements, there are still further reductions needed.  Therefore, the City is looking at every available option to reduce nitrogen including innovative technology such as Microbe-Lift. 

A pilot study completed in 2015 showed promising results in reductions in Total nitrogen. The City, in partnership with FDOT, decided to develop a broader study to include 18 ponds throughout the City.

4.  In what areas/neighborhoods are the test ponds located?

  • FDOT pond at the intersection of Alamo Street and Huntsford Road
  • City pond at the intersection of Kona Avenue and Century Street
  • FDOT pond at the southwest intersection of I-295 and Lee Road
  • City pond at the intersection of Ft. Caroline Road and Spanish Oaks Drive.
  • City pond just north of Ansley at Harts Road apartment complex at 11011 Harts Road
  • City pond just west of 7914 Pritchard Road
  • FDOT pond at 10420 General Avenue
  • City pond at 2581 Commonwealth Avenue (COJ Fleet Maintenance)
  • FDOT pond at the southwest intersection of Forest Street and Myrtle Avenue
Click here to see a map.

5.  Is there a health risk?

The Microbe-Lift product is currently sold as an aquarium maintenance for residential use for over 20 years. Over the last decade, this BMP has been used to treat several stormwater ponds maintained by Homeowners Associations in Florida. The treatment system is applied topically to stormwater ponds. There has been no known incident of health risk. 

The Microbe-Lift product was evaluated through the Florida Department of Environmental Protection innovative product assessment program and was approved for use in stormwater treatment. Any bacteria, including naturally occurring bacteria, can present a health risk to individuals who are chronically ill or immune comprised. The only known cases involve immune compromised individuals in hospital situations.

6.  Is it safe for marine life?

Absolutely!  This product is specifically designed to treat algae conditions in aquariums and ponds.  It is specifically designed to apply in areas that have fish and plant life.

7.  How long is the study?

While the City of Jacksonville will collect samples from January 2019 through December 2020, the application of the Microbe-Lift product will begin June 25, 2019 and finish in June 2020.

8.  How will the Microbe-Lift be distributed?

The liquid portion of this product will be sprayed topically on the stormwater ponds. There is also a dry product that is applied at various locations around the perimeter of the pond.

9.  What are the indicators of success?

The intention of this stormwater treatment with Microbe-Lift is to increase the efficiency of the treatment of total nitrogen and Bacteria to improve the water quality in the Lower St. Johns River and its tributaries. Measures of success will be determined with two questions: 

1)    Is there a clear calculation to estimate the total nitrogen reduction?
2)    Do the results present a cost-effective option for maximum total nitrogen reduction?

10.  How could the study affect water quality?

Based on the pilot study completed in 2015, the Microbe-Lift could see as much as a 60% reduction in total nitrogen and an 80% reduction in fecal coliform bacteria.

11.  Who do I contact if I have additional questions?

Please call the Environmental Quality Division with the City of Jacksonville at 904-255-7100.