Originally published by WINK News on January 10, 2023

Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani, a man who has dedicated himself to the preservation of Southwest Florida’s waterways, plans to retire soon.

Cassani has been the face of the region’s water for years. Whether you’re talking about issues of fecal matter in Billy’s Creek, blue-green algae in the canals, or red tide near Sanibel, John Cassani has always been part of the conversation. Few people have been more passionate about protecting our waterways, making it his decadeslong mission to defend our right to drinkable, fishable, and swimmable waters.

Cassani says he discovered this passion at a young age.

“My parents, you know, we’d go fishing on weekends, chase frogs, and my dad owned a sporting garden, just co-owner with his brother in a sporting goods store,” Cassani said.

Many of his most memorable moments happened on or near the water, like proposing to his wife and raising his own children.

“With my son, kayak fishing on upper Pine Island Sound… memories I’ll never forget,” Cassani said.

And Cassani hopes others will be able to share similar memories with their families That’s why he has spent around the last 45 years working as an environmental advocate and water resources manager.

“I have to tell you, I’ve witnessed a lot of change over that period of time, more than four decades, and it hasn’t all been good,” Cassani said. “Right now, at this point in time. So discouraging. We’re right on the cliff edge, if you will, of losing it in a big way.”

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