Ecological Laboratories, Inc. In the News

Jacksonville Studying Bacteria-Based Technology To Help Clean Up Waterways



Jacksonville is launching a study to see just how effective a bacteria-based technology is at removing nitrogen from water bodies, a leading driver of harmful algal blooms.


Over the next year nine ponds throughout the city will be periodically sprayed with Microbe-Lift, a blend of bacteria manufactured by Ecological Laboratories to reduce nitrogen in ponds, landscaping and irrigation. Meanwhile staff from the City’s Environmental Quality Division (EQD) will collect samples every month through December 2020 to measure the levels of total nitrogen.


“Based on the pilot study we did at three ponds in 2015, we are hopeful for a 60 percent reduction in total nitrogen, which is more than double the amount a normal stormwater pond would achieve,” said Melissa Long, chief of EQD.


The study is being funded with more than $300,000 in donations, grants and in-kind contributions from the Florida Department of Transportation, the St. Johns River Water Management District, the Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.


“Jacksonville’s tributaries and the river, which are currently impaired for nitrogen and E. Coli bacteria, need pioneering solutions to reduce pollution, preserve our environment and enhance quality of life,” said FDOT Project Management Engineer Alan Obaigbena.


The City is obligated to reduce total nitrogen under the St. Johns Basin Management Action Plan. Due to Jacksonville’s size and population, it has to reduce more nitrogen than any other municipality in Florida. This study is just one of several approaches the City is taking to meet its goal.



JEA Seeks New Technology To Lower Cost Of Ongoing Septic Tank Phase Out Program


“Nitrogen in our waterways leads to algae blooms in high enough concentrations, which of course has effects on fish, wildlife, swimming, recreational activities, things like that,” said Dale Jenkins, Bureau of Project Management Chief with the St. Johns River Water Management District. “We know if we can reduce the total nitrogen and total phosphorus that gets into our waterways, they'll be cleaner and the environment will, as a result, be better off.”

Sources of nitrogen in Florida’s water include septic systems, fertilizer, livestock waste, polluted rain and wastewater treatment facilities. Long said there are some commercial sources as well.

“Everybody who discharges in this area, from the mouth of the river down to Welaka, are stakeholders in the lower St. John's basin management action plans,” she explained.  “They're all required to make reductions, including us.”


Douglas Dent, Technical Director at Ecological Laboratories, said the chemicals frequently used to reduce Nitrogen levels in retention ponds work, if aesthetics are your main concern. “You kill it off. It looks good for people, but it biologically breaks down and releases all the nutrients back and downstream they go,” he said.


Ecological Laboratories has been using its propriety microbial products to naturally restore the health of aquatic ecosystems since 1976. MICROBE-LIFT® bio-tech works by using a select blend of unique microbial strains to include Photoautrophs. The unique technology offers demonstrated non-chemical recovery of polluted aquatic environments through the biological oxidation reduction of waste organic matter and nitrogen compounds, offering a natural, nonchemical methodology for aquatic ecosystem restoration. This environmentally safe microbial technology restores eutrophic waterways to their natural state.


And according to the City and Ecological Laboratories, there are no toxicity concerns with Microbe-Lift at all. In fact, it’s frequently used to maintain aquariums and coy ponds and it’s used in aquaculture.


“These are products that are used in homes all the time and it's been used in the sanctuary out at the Jacksonville Beach for 12 years in their pond system,” said Long. “So we don't anticipate any issues with it.”


Jacksonville Microbe-Lift pond pilot project sites.



But to avoid any interference with the tests, residents are being asked to stay out of the test ponds:


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


Jenkins said when Jacksonville first submitted the application to conduct these tests back in September 2018, SJRWMD staff scored it very high in their evaluation.


“We think there's good promise,” he said. “Their pilot programs have demonstrated that this technology works.”


And if these tests confirm that suspicion, the intent is to apply Microbe-Lift on a larger scale.


Dent said it’s already being used across the globe to improve the water quality of rivers and streams.


“In China we treat flowing rivers, major rivers, and in Indonesia we treat major flowing rivers. So the capability’s there, you just scale it up,” he said. “We’ve been doing it for years. We can take what’s called a class five toxic river and within anywhere between two to four weeks have that water quality up to agriculture standard.”

Brendan Rivers can be reached at, 904-358-6396 or onTwitter at @BrendanRivers.


FAQs City of Jacksonville

Microbe Lift FAQs


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.


Sister city trip to China: Building relationships

June 27, 2019

By KATIE EGAN ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze


Delegates from one of Asia's largest countries visited Cape Coral in February.


City officials and members of local businesses then visited China in early June to continue establishing a mutually beneficial sister city relationship.


Now, government officials from Baise are slated to return to Cape Coral in early 2020, and delegates from Chengdu are expected to visit in the fall.


It's a relationship in its infancy but one its would-be matchmakers say could mature into a marriage of mutual economic benefit.


--- Reaching out

For the past two years, the city has been working on a relationship with Baise, the westernmost prefecture-level city of Guangxi, near the Vietnam border.


In February, a delegation from Baise (pronounced BYE-SA) visited Cape Coral to get the ball rolling.

The goal was to showcase the best of Cape Coral and offer key business and educational tours. The delegation visited local businesses including the Cape Coral Hospital and Ecological Laboratories, which currently has a manufacturing facility in China.

Business owner JoAnne Killion, who provides educational student exchange programs, initiated the plan to find a sister city in China more than two years ago.


"Being an educator, I personally would like to see that the sister city merging will help our children in the near future," Killion, who was part of the city delegation, said. "In participating in many exchange programs, like music, art and languages, see the world and know more friends."


According to Killion, a sister city relationship is based on the commitment of two cities embarking on a mission to create exchange in areas of arts and culture, education, health/medical, tourism, growing our economy and community engagement.


Killion says she was once a volunteer in a global program, where she hosted visitors from all over the world.


"They stayed with us, we shared different cultural views, and we know a lot about their countries, their way of life and their languages and history," she said. "My husband and I were involved for 18 years, and we enjoyed every bit of it."


At first glance, Baise and Cape Coral may not appear to have much in common. Baise is a lot larger, more than 20 times the size of Cape Coral with 12 counties and 135 townships.


However, the two cities share similar climates, and they're both popular municipalities and well-known tourist destinations.

Cape Coral's newly appointed economic development manager, Ricardo Noguera, said the goal of the early June trip to China was to expand the market for Cape Coral businesses, expand revenue and create more local job opportunities.


"It expands the image of the Cape at a global level as a great place to invest," he said. "More investments in the Cape help to grow the local economy and attract more jobs to the city."


At first, Baise was originally the only city on the agenda.


However, according to Noguera, City Manager John Szerlag told him he wanted the trip to be more than a cultural exchange; he wanted to expand the venture into economic development.


So, Noguera reached out to a contact in Shanghai and eventually got in touch with someone from Chengdu, a 12-hour car ride away from Baise.


"This all happened in a matter of weeks," he said. "Before you knew it, we were able to add a second city to the trip. And that was all about economic development."


Noguera previously served as economic development chief for the city of Tacoma, Washington.


Washington state, like California, has a strong Chinese base and business ties and Tacoma is among the communities that have benefitted economically.


--- Making contacts

The entire delegation consisted of Noguera; Killion, Mayor Joe Coviello; his executive assistant, Pearl Taylor; interpreter, Lucinda Chu; Cape Coral Director of Community Development Vince Cautero; Cape Coral Hospital Nursing Director Lorri Philban; Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Ecological Laboratories Matthew Richter, and Chief Operating Officer of Ecological Laboratories, Robert Richter.


They arrived in Chengdu late at night on Saturday for a whirlwind 36-hour trip.


There they met with a representative from Asia Star, a private firm that works directly with the local government.


Noguera says it's hard to do business in China without first going through the government.


"You go through the government and get their blessing and then they provide connections with private industries," he said. "Asia Star is like an agent that acts as a broker to assist private industry overseas and in China to do work there."


On Sunday, the group met with government officials.


On Monday, they had a formal meeting with government officials and toured an incubator and presented opportunities that exist in Cape Coral.


"As a result of this trip, government officials and Asia Star are planning a trip to come here in the fall," Noguera said.


He also said he's already started connecting some local employers in Chengdu.


"That's why they are coming here in the next three to four months," Noguera said. "Having folks coming here to further explore investment in Cape businesses. I see opportunities for manufacturing and companies that produce products here to sell in Chinese markets or purchase supplies."


On Monday night, the group traveled to Nanning and then drove two hours to Baise.

On Tuesday, they toured a major hospital and university. The Cape Coral delegation also met with government officials and pitched opportunities to invest in Cape Coral.


"I think we made a very good connection there between Lee Health and the Baise medical community," Noguera said.


--- Building relationships

Philbin says Lee Health is always looking for opportunities for innovative programs and any new technology out there to help improve health and wellness.


One of the Cape Coral Hospital nursing director's goals for the trip was to tour the Medical Hospital of Youjiang Nationalities and meet hospital officials and find a common interest. She also toured the Youjiang Medical School.


"The trip is all about building relationships first," Philbin said. "When they came to us in February, it was a meeting for them to understand our city and see what we have to offer. Us going to China was the same thing."


Philbin learned that gastric cancer is very prevalent in China and the two cities agreed on two common interests: outpatient therapy and cancer treatment.


Philbin is also talking with Lee Health about pursuing an opportunity for a physician exchange program.


"Any opportunity to learn is always beneficial to those immediately involved and to the community at large," she said. "Any time we can share ideas, it makes Cape Coral and Lee County a better community."


Right now, Lee Health and the Cape Coral hospital are exploring the physician exchange program with senior leadership.


Nothing is finalized and the two sides are working on logistics, setting goals, and ensuring that all state and federal regulations are met.

"We are looking for opportunities that might be mutually beneficial to both countries," she said.


With any exchange program, what I would like to see come out of that is new knowledge, whether that's increasing the technology, or new medication."


--- Foundation forged

According to Noguera, Baise government officials are planning a trip to Cape Coral in early 2020.


He said the June trip facilitated opportunities to help local companies sell their goods as well as purchase supplies and export products.


"It expands the image of the Cape at a global level as a great place to invest," he said.


While the Baise Delegation was here in February, Ecological Laboratories showed them what they do in Cape Coral and what they already do in China.


In June, the company met with the director of the National Agriculture Institute, and continued previous talks from earlier in the year.


Companies in China are currently testing Ecological Laboratories' Microbe-Lift product, a living microorganism bacteria.


Vice President and Chief Information Officer Matthew Richter said Ecological Laboratories showed the director of the National Agriculture Institute an organic fertilizer.


"The benefit is not adding chemicals to the environment," he said.


Ecological Laboratories also met with the Department of the Environment and River Projects and explained to them what can be done when a river is having nutrient problems and needs to be regulated to get back to a healthy condition.


Richter used the Cabot Canal in Cape Coral as an example.


"We were given six months to use our product and in those six months, we brought the canal back to perfect health," he said

Richter said these kinds of connections with international countries and companies are normally made through networking and contacts and trade shows.


"This is not like that," he said. "It's two delegations meeting and talking about how we can help each other."


"We feel very positive about what we accomplished."


One of Noguera's goals is for Cape Coral to be known internationally.


"We already have folks from Germany, Canada and elsewhere investing in Cape Coral," he said. "We want to broaden that and bring new money to our city. A city grows by attracting more investment from outside and more investment means more jobs."


Noguera said these things don't happen overnight, but, "you're already seeing results."


"We went to visit Baise, but we added Chengdu," Noguera said. "This fall, we have people coming from Chengdu. I think we will be seeing positive results in upcoming months."


Richter says the trip's ultimate goal comes down to having Chinese officials come over here to invest in the area.


"At the end of the day, if they get one nice- sized project to come over here, it's something the city doesn't have," he said. "That means more tax dollars coming into the city."


"It's a good promotional way to get people to come here. It's thinking outside of the box."


© Copyright 2019 Cape Coral Daily Breeze. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.  REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION OF THE BREEZE, CAPE CORAL FLA.

MICROBE-LIFT® Technology Restores Aquatic Ecosystem in Cabot Canal

Cape Coral, FL

When pollution devastated the waters in Lee County, Florida last year, the City of Cape Coral brought in Ecological Laboratories and their time-tested MICROBE-LIFT® technology for a Pilot Test (with an FDEP-Non-Objection Letter) in hopes of restoring water quality in their most heavily impacted Cabot Canal.

The six-month FDEP-controlled evaluation of the company’s novel microbial aquatic restoration process demonstrated the technology’s effectiveness in the Cabot Canal study with the rapid restoration of water quality within the heavily-polluted environment. The comparison photos on both sides of this handout show the evolution of water quality improvements.


These are some of the most notable observations from the MICROBE-LIFT® test:

  • Enzymatically broke down 8 inches of algal mat within 10 days after the first application
  • Significant bottom sludge reduction over the course of the trial
  • Increased dissolved oxygen to a healthy level (7 – 9 ppm)
  • No detrimental effects on the indigenous life forms surroundings
  • Effectively recycled nutrients in the water and from the sludge
  • Eliminated foul odor after one heavy initial application
  • Improved water clarity and visibility

Continued Water Quality Improvements in Cabot Canal, Cape Coral FL

City Introduces Innovative Technology To Reduce Algae Blooms

June 26, 2019


The City’s Environmental Quality Division (EQD) is launching a stormwater pond study as part of its continuous efforts to improve the city’s water quality. Jacksonville will be one of the first cities in Florida to use Microbe-Lift, a blend of specially formulated strains of bacteria manufactured for use by landscape, irrigation and pond professionals, with the purpose of significantly reducing the amount of total Nitrogen in stormwater ponds.


From June 2019 to June 2020, contracted specialists will spray nine ponds throughout the city while EQD team members collect samples monthly to determine the levels of Total Nitrogen. A decrease in Total Nitrogen will help reduce the potential for the growth of algae, known for producing blooms that can be harmful to humans and marine life.
“Based on the pilot study we did at three ponds in 2015, we are hopeful for a 60 percent reduction in Total Nitrogen, which is more than double the amount a normal stormwater pond would achieve,” said Melissa Long, chief of EQD.
The City is partnering with the Florida Department of Transportation, St. Johns Water Management District, Jacksonville Environmental Protection Board and Florida Department of Environmental Protection to fund the more than $300,000 study with donations, grants and in-kind contributions.
“Protecting and improving water quality in the St. Johns River are among the district’s greatest priorities. This innovative project is aimed at developing cost-effective methods to improve stormwater treatment practices,” said St. Johns River Water Management District Executive Director Dr. Ann Shortelle. “Working with local governments to achieve our shared goal of water quality protection makes good sense, and we are an enthusiastic partner on this project.”
“Jacksonville’s tributaries and the River, which are currently impaired for Nitrogen and E. Coli bacteria, need pioneering solutions to reduce pollution, preserve our environment, and enhance quality of life.” said Alan Obaigbena, FDOT project management engineer. “As such, our agencies are collaborating to invest in a DEP-approved, but still new, technology to reduce existing pollutants in our stormwater facilities. We are excited and proud to participate in this ground-breaking water quality improvement project.”
The testing is being conducted in addition to the City’s traditional best management practices, such as septic tank phase out and street sweeping, and will contribute to meeting a state-mandated responsibility to reduce total nitrogen levels by an additional 53 metric tons before the end of 2023. If the study is deemed successful, the treatment process could be a more cost-effective option for the City.
“This project is important because we have to look at every possible angle to meet our nutrient reduction obligation, which is the largest of any municipality in the state because of the city’s size and population,” said Long. “This might be a way for us to meet that requirement, reduce the cost of treatment and improve our waterways to give residents a better quality of life.”
While Microbe-Lift products are used without harmful effects in home aquariums and other lake systems, including The Sanctuary system in Jacksonville Beach, the City is advising residents to avoid the following treatment sites:

  • 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


Citizens should visit or contact the Environmental Quality Division at (904) 255-7100 for more information.



Ecological Laboratories Inc. (ELI) houses its state-of-the-art lab facility, production and distribution center in Cape Coral, Florida. In addition to MICROBE-LIFT® Technology, ELI’s QUANTUM GROWTH line is used on turf, landscaping and agricultural crops to help boost plant growth and yield, while reducing fertilizer use and runoff to the ecosystem.


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