Water filtration box to pull 100,000 pounds of garbage from Sarasota Bay per year

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Underneath 10th Street in Sarasota, there's a massive machine, called a baffle box, working to keep the water clean. 

Earlier this year, 20,000 pounds of silt had to be dredged from the boat basin. If the baffle box had been installed earlier, the city said that mess wouldn't have ended up there. 

Senior Utilities Engineer for the City of Sarasota Bill Nichols described how the three chambers inside the 18x24x17-foot-deep box work. 

"It carries water from about 325 acres of drainage area downtown," Nichols said. "It disrupts the flow of the water that has these suspended dirt particles that contain nitrogen and phosphates that are part of that natural environment. The velocity drops, these particles settle out into one of three chambers in the bottom of the box."

The box will be cleaned out every three months. During its first cleaning, tires, tree limbs, and plastic was pulled from the bottom. 

"Our goal was to remove 72,000 pounds of this sediment, that would end up in the boat basin, a year. The actual estimate based on the box and of the internal hardware, we think we will remove up to 100,000 pounds," said Nichols. 

The city hopes to remove nutrients from stormwater runoff, which scientists believe helps red tide flourish. Sarasota has felt the nasty side effects of red tide for more than a year now. 

"It is something really concrete that is keeping organic matter, nutrients, nitrogen out of our bay by catching it before it leaks into 10th street," said Stevie Freeman-Montes. 

Stevie Freeman-Montes, the city's sustainability manager said the box is working, but reminds residents they need to do their part, securing garbage and other yard debris. That will help ensure the trash doesn't end up in Sarasota Bay. 

"A lot of folks don't realize that those storm drains go straight out to the bay without being filtered," said Freeman-Montes.