Chiquita Lock Removal
Chiquita Lock is the last of several control structures originally installed in Cape Coral to control storm-water runoff. These systems were designed to store water for natural treatment along the mangrove fringe, mimic the natural sheet flow of water from north to south, and prevent saltwater intrusion into our groundwater.
These control structures were mandated to be installed by a court-ordered consent decree due to Cape Coral’s developers digging many canals without the proper state and federal wetland permitting.
Over the years, the City of Cape Coral and Florida Department of Environmental Protection have allowed mangrove breaches on the western wall to go unmitigated and the lock to fall into disrepair. This is now the argument for the lock serving no purpose. In reality, it is an inconvenience to boaters, and the primary motivation for removal is an expected boost in property values for property owners behind the lock.
A city born from the water may not always doing its best to protect it.
Ceitus Boat Lift & Barrier
A scenario just like Chiquita Lock has already played out in the Northwest Spreader System of Cape Coral. After years of discourse and court battles, the City removed the Ceitus Barrier as a convenience to boaters.
In the years since, Matlacha Pass has been named an impaired water body and dramatic silting has taken place directly downstream of the Northwest Spreader System’s exit directly into the Matlacha Pass Preserve.
Continued development in N. Cape Coral with plans such as the D&D Boat Ramp site and the major Seven Islands District will continue to put greater pressure on these delicately balanced estuary habitats.
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Chiquita Lock & Ceitus Barrier
A hearing to determine whether the state should issue a permit allowing the city of Cape Coral to remove the Chiquita Lock concluded Wednesday afternoon. Groups await a written decision by Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk, which will be a recommended final order.
The hearing was continued after extensive questioning of experts concerning the water pollution generated by Cape Coral ran longer than expected. Petitioners also pointed out that Cape Coral has long held a permit to update the lock with improvements that would benefit wildlife, boaters, and water quality.
John Cassani, Calusa Waterkeeper Emeritus, in testimony at the trial on the removal of the Chiquita Boat Lock, exposed major failings in the FDEP which allow the City of Cape Coral to continue polluting the waters of Matlacha Pass and the Caloosahatchee without adverse consequences.
The fight over the removal of Chiquita Lock is heading to trial, with Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk ruling that the lawsuit can proceed. This comes after multiple nonprofit environmental organizations, including Calusa Waterkeeper was forced to withdraw as petitioners from the legal challenge.
Several high-profile groups and nonprofits bowed out of a legal challenge to keep Cape Coral’s Chiquita Boat Lock, a nearly 50-year-old manmade barrier, in operation, citing fears of massive attorney’s fees and alleged “intimidation” by the city.
The city’s latest request to remove the lock should be denied on many of the same grounds that it was denied on a few short years ago in Administrative Law Judge Francis Ffolkes’ December 2019 ruling.
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