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
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.
Something needs to be done about the Chiquita Lock. The lock was designed to prevent Cape Coral’s polluted water from entering the Caloosahatchee estuary. It has fallen into disrepair, is a headache for boaters, and is dangerous for manatees.
Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Noah Valenstein rejected the permit that the agency previously said it would approve. The order issued from Valenstein represents the DEP’s final decision on the matter and supersedes a November 2018 announcement that it would issue the permit.
The decision on the Chiquita Lock has been the topic of controversy for months. Boaters have complained about the wait times at the lock. Getting in and out of this spot can get busy, especially during season. But a state judge’s 50-page recommendation says the wait is worth it.
A water control structure in Cape Coral will be the focus of a hearing this week as environmental and civic groups aim to keep the city from completely removing the Chiquita Lock. The lock was designed to retain freshwater so that it has a period of time to wash through an adjacent mangrove system, which helps clean the water.
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