Originally published by Cape Coral Breeze on December 21, 2023 by CJ Haddad

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.

The next steps will be post-hearing briefs of the parties filed in late January or early February, followed by a written decision by Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk, which will be a recommended final order.

The parties may then file written exceptions to all, or parts of the recommended order. The final order, with exceptions, will then go to the Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for review and final say.

The hearing will determine whether the FDEP can move forward with its announced intent to issue the permit to allow the removal of the lock based on a plan the city says will improve the quality of water that flows into the South Spreader canal.

Calusa Waterkeeper Emeritus John Cassani, 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 River without adverse consequences,” he added.

At the trial, Cassani discussed the department’s major tool intended to clean up the waters of the state, the Basin Management Action Plan, referred to as BMAP.

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