Do you ever wonder what happens to the seaweed that washes up on Fort Lauderdale’s beaches? The City is in fact on the move every morning to clear seaweed from the shore.
Seaweed floats ashore due to strong easterly winds and dips in the Gulf Stream, creating a dumping effect on our beaches with mounds of seaweed arriving virtually overnight. This seaweed can trap unwanted trash on the beach and degrade conditions for visitors and for marine wildlife.
For the past six years, we have been reusing that seaweed it in a novel way. City crews remove the seaweed on a daily basis utilizing Barber Surfrakes pulled by track based tractors. A typical day will bring in about six tons of seaweed, but much more is possible on high tide days. In 2012, in just a few days period, our crews removed more than 40 tons of seaweed! The seaweed is loaded into dump trucks and shipped off to Snyder Park where it is added to a compost pile. It is allowed to ripen for about 90 days and eventually turns into rich soil which is then used in city planting projects.
Composting seaweed saves us about $180,000 per year that we would be spending if we had to transport collected seaweed to a county landfill instead. It also saves money on purchasing new fill soil. Every three months, we dedicate about 200 yards of soil to landscape projects, and we can use our free seaweed compost instead.
It's a sustainability win-win: Good for people, because it keeps our beaches clean. Good for the planet because we reuse a resource. Good for our economy because it keeps our beaches beautiful and accessible for visitors.