NORTH FORT MYERS, Fla. -- A North Fort Myers man says he created a device that prevents algae from building up and decaying in his backyard canal.
Gary Sicluna says the homemade aerator makes the smell in his backyard tolerable by breaking up big chunks of decaying algae. The retired hydraulic engineer lives at the end of a canal in the Waterway Estates area. The device doesn't eliminate algae, but prevents algae from building up into a thick blue-green texture by creating movement in the stagnant water. "It gets caught back here and there's no water movement whatsoever. That's when it really starts to breed and gets thick and really starts to stink," he said. "The idea is being able to agitate the water so that it can't sit still and keep growing, to keep it broken up. That would make a big difference."
It works by recycling water underneath the surface and pumping it through tubes. "I took a waste pump, hooked it to a two inch piece of PVC, made three nozzles so I could control the flow," said Sicluna. "The pump has a little motor. It produces 3,300 gallons per hour."
Sicluna says for the last week and a half, the aerator kept algae from building up and turning blue. He turned off the pump two days ago, and the algae has built up again.
Dr. James Douglass, marine scientist at FGCU says the device does not appear harmful, and could provide some short term relief. "It may clear the thick algae from the immediate area where the device is being used, I don't expect it to get rid of the algae or kill the algae," he said. "Experimenting like this gentleman is doing is a good thing."
Sicluna does not see his aerator as a long term solution either, but says his neighbors are already asking about getting their own installed for some relief from the strong algae smell. "If we can do any little bit to try to keep it from getting any worse, we need to give it a try and come together as a community to do something to help," said Sicluna.