Originally published by Florida Weekly on May 4, 2022

He’s won this Florida Weekly award before, and if we’re lucky he’ll win it again rather than retiring: John Cassani, our Calusa Waterkeeper.

Mr. Cassani is like the Marine Corps: He’s the single most effective individual on air, on land or on water, these days relying on volunteer pilot Ralph Arwood to look from the sky. He leads the most able volunteer organization in the state to defend the 60-mile Caloosahatchee River basin from Lake Okeechobee to Sanibel Island and Charlotte Harbor from degradation and destruction. Pollutants and wetland destruction, so far not regulated effectively by national, state or local governments, come from all the usual suspects: agriculture, developers, septic leakage, and urban runoff from towns and cities.

Mr. Cassani makes science his chief ally, observing and testing waters from Lake O to the river to the feeder creeks to the bay and gulf when state government doesn’t. In the process, he also protects humans from toxic algal blooms that can have devastating health effects on people and animals.

Mr. Cassani is almost singly responsible for educating both the public and the media about our water and health challenges on the southwest coast.

His nonprofit Calusa Waterkeeper is part of the international Waterkeeper Alliance.

The Calusa Waterkeeper’s remarkable documentary films detailing the realities of the region, including the latest, “Waterborne,” about water quality, policy and public health, are free for viewers.

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John Cassani - Calusa Waterkeeper