Cape Coral company sees success with environmental cleanup, hopes to tackle state’s most polluted waters…

Ecological Laboratories, a family-run business, engineers items for crop agriculture and water restoration based on its nonpatented biological formulas. Its products include microbes that clean up polluted bodies of water ranging from aquariums to lakes and a photosynthetic culture that reduces fertilizer use for crops.

Michael Richter, CEO and a founding member of the company, said the company can also revitalize soil that has been damaged by pesticides and herbicides, and help clean up sludge. Its products have been used for wastewater management and golf course maintenance, as well.

Eco Labs has treated polluted bodies of water in several U.S. states and countries around the world, from Ireland to China, and executives are confident their products could dramatically cut down pollution in Lake Okeechobee, the Caloosahatchee River and the Everglades. But despite their international success, the company faces roadblocks in getting their product fully approved for use in state waters.

Treatment rids Cabot Canal in Cape Coral of blue-green algae.

As the sun sets in southeast Cape Coral, it appears for most homeowners that blue-green algae is a thing of the past. That’s good news for Barbara Kozma. “Oh the smell was really bad,” Kozma said. “We didn’t even want to be outside. ”Kozma lives on the Cabot Canal near the Midpoint Memorial Bridge. It looks like 10 weeks of bacteria treatment effectively cleared up the once nasty, thick blue-green algae. “We’ve lived here for 10 years,” Kozma said.

“We’ve never seen anything like what we had. ”In an email to Cape Coral’s mayor, Ecological Laboratories said they have seen improvements in water quality and clarity thanks to their treatment. From when the treatment started to now, they can see 6 inches further into the water. “Now the water quality looks a lot better and there’s a lot of wildlife,” Joe Coviello said, mayor of Cape Coral. “I’ve seen fish jumping.” The bacteria uses up the nutrients the blue-green algae would otherwise use to grow. Coviello said on a five acre lake, the treatment costs about $25,000 But with canals across Cape Coral now cleared of algae without any treatment, we asked: How do we know the bacteria cleared up this canal? “We saw marked improvements right off the bat,” Coviello said. “Even when the canals had algae in it, there was an improvement. Especially with the thick algae that was at the end of this canal. Coviello said the bacteria treatment is definitely an option Cape Coral would consider if and most likely when blue-green algae returns. “It was good to see they had a solution,” Kozma said. “It had been such a long time where it just seemed to be getting worse every day.”