The Mission of Floating Island International

Today as the entire planet battles a viral pandemic—a battle we are increasingly uncertain about winning based on the rush of COVID evolutions—it’s fitting that we consider water and the evolutionary forces it faces. Clean water is at the heart of the mission of Floating Island International.

The Clean Water Act(s), in place since the early ’70s, October 1972 to be exact, gave us clear direction, and blatant contaminant pollution became forbidden.

At the time it was passed, a time of rivers that actually caught on fire, we were a nation ready to act. Montana’s own Senator Max Baucus led from the Democratic aisle, and bipartisan movement took place. But the Act didn’t address nutrient pollution. That would have meant telling farmers that fertilizer needed to be regulated. America, the world’s breadbasket, wasn’t ready for that.

Now, nearly a half century later, nutrient pollution regularly results in Harmful Algae Blooms of incredible volume. These bloom occur in headwater states, like Montana, and stretch down to the Gulf of Mexico They occur in every sector of the country, and the Lake Erie’s and Chesapeake Bays of our country are the recipients, and the victims. And as they die, so will we.

a pond backed by a large apartment building dotted with floating islands and a fountain
A residential array of newly-launched BioHavens in a stormwater pond in Lethbridge, AB.

My company is founded on the principle that “Nature is our Model.” The mission of this company is to transition water through a process called Biomimicry, and it represents a ray of hope. Nature is resilient and totally impartial. It doesn’t care if humans survive or not. It just responds to and incorporates everything. When agriculture adds thousands of pounds of synthetic phosphorus, orthophosphate, to our water, and a single pound grows 1,100 pounds of blue-green algae and cyanobacteria, it’s clear that nature’s wetland effect will be overwhelmed, at least for a time. During that time air breathing life in our water will go away.

Farmers are good people. They aren’t domestic terrorists, for the most part. Their eyes have certainly widened as the “organic” movement has taken hold here in the U.S. But like all of us, they need to pay their bills. They have their other dreams too, just like all of us. If they hear the market calling for more sugar beets, or more corn, they will listen to their agricultural consultants and spike their ground with fertilizers.

Nature’s ratio of carbon to nitrogen to phosphorus is 106 to 16 to 1. This is called the Redfield Ratio. Purchase a bag of fertilizer from your local hardware store…check out the ratio. Maybe 30-30-10. Since carbon is ubiquitous, this is a one to one ratio between nitrogen and phosphorus, with potassium bringing up the rear. To say it falls outside of Nature’s Model is the epitome of understatement.

What if gross human behavior could be stewarded into productivity? What if the massive disparity between Nature’s Model and what agriculture currently does could be managed? The answer is that Water could be restored to health, and experience awesome productivity in the process.

Scientists have continued to evaluate the specific wetland processes involved with floating wetlands, to understand in detail the effect of the islands as opposed to other factors. The mission of Floating Island International is to continue to increase our knowledge and understanding around transitioning water. Third-party case studies have continued to verify our results:

Holly pond was an algae-covered mosquito factory prior to the installation of BioHaven Floating Islands and a Floating StreamBed. The City of Sheridan, WY, began to manage it as  a minnow fishery pond that has been featured at the state pest control conference as an example of how to steward water to prevent mosquitoes.

Please request the full report here. 

This is called Transition Water. It’s what happens on Fish Fry Lake, here at FII’s headquarters.

Here’s a video of me catching a five pound bass early one morning. It’s only two minutes in duration, but a lot of fun! It demonstrates that we can steward for incredibly productive and healthy, and clear, and safe, water. And it’s remarkable straightforward. We don’t fix water in order to restore water’s food web. We restore water’s food web in order to fix water. We provide surface area and circulation, and Nature takes it from there. And nature doesn’t abide with half measures!

Water accounts for at least 20% of current greenhouse gas emissions. And this number will grow, unless movement occurs soon. My company is about this movement. The mission of Floating Island International? We will act, and respond, and hopefully begin the process of Transition Water. We are prepared to do this on small, algae choked ponds and lakes, and on the large ones too, with floating photovoltaic projects. With six current BioHaven manufacturers in place around the planet, and a seventh prepping in Chile, we are poised. These companies will be further incentivized via carbon credit, as they eliminate methane emissions.

Will the next several years be tumultuous? For sure. Will there be recalcitrance from the status quo? For sure. Will we advance through this? Yes, we will.