The effects of a rain event from the Caloosahatchee watershed, which often includes Lake Okeechobee discharges.
Stormwater & Nutrient Pollution
As the landscape is cleared for various uses, flood control measures typically create more water quality problems. Stormwater is engineered to run off into canals and waterways much quicker than in the natural systems which allowed for standing water and the filtering of pollutants by wetlands. Ditching, dredging and road building throughout Florida, has altered floways and accelerated runoff in many watersheds. This leads to downstream impacts to receiving waters from stormwater runoff, especially after large rain events.
Stormwater runoff is a dynamic vehicle that introduces many pollutants into our waters, including nitrogen, phosphorous, fecal bacteria, copper, mercury, plastics and more. Whether we’re talking about agricultural or residential uses, the development, fertilization, irrigation and flood control decisions we make on land have a lasting impact on water quality.
Stormwater management and oversight in Florida is a somewhat complex web of government and stakeholder involvement. Land owners, cities, counties and Community Development Districts (CDDs) are all responsible for compliance with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) which the state’s Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) is charged with overseeing. The state’s water management districts also play an important role in flood control projects and stormwater permitting on larger developments.
Related News Stories
Earlier this month, pilot Ralph Arwood, who volunteers for the nonprofit Calusa Waterkeeper, photographed brown billows flowing into the Caloosahatchee from the Townsend Canal in Hendry County, near Lee’s border. Its milk chocolatey color contrasted with the river’s dark blue.
Styrofoam was scattered along the Caloosahatchee riverbank near Centennial Park, and it’s apparently been there for weeks. If you see something, say something, and the city has a way to do just that. If this trash gets into the river or the Gulf of Mexico it’s not going to be good for wildlife.
There’s a plan to keep the water flowing not down a river, but across a river. Progress is happening on an idea to move reclaimed water from Fort Myers to Cape Coral. Caloosahatchee Connect construction will soon start on that pipeline to move water across the Caloosahatchee to be used for irrigation and fire protection.
Treasure Coast lawmakers admit Florida’s flagship program to reduce water pollution isn’t working. But none are taking action during this legislative session to change it. The BMAP has legally enforceable strategies for landowners to reduce pollution, but Florida isn’t enforcing them beyond warning letters.
Available water sampling data proves – for the first time – that Florida’s flagship program to reduce water pollution isn’t working. And that pollution is contaminating waterways and sparking toxic algal blooms in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ new plan to manage and distribute vast quantities of water coming into and going out of Lake Okeechobee — reducing flows both east and west unless the lake grows too full, and sending more water south — is a significant improvement over the old plan.
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