It is with heavy, but grateful hearts that the Calusa Waterkeeper Board of Directors announces the retirement of John Cassani as the Calusa Waterkeeper, effective January 1, 2023.

John’s service to the Calusa Waterkeeper (CWK) organization and the people of Southwest Florida has been immense and cannot be overstated. His shoes will be difficult to fill, but the CWK board has been working actively to do so, and to provide a smooth transition to a new Waterkeeper over the coming months. These decisions were made weeks prior to the impact Hurricane Ian made to our area and slowed our announcement and planning capabilities.

Following Hurricane Ian, John and Calusa Waterkeeper volunteers distributed free Rapid Home Drinking Water Test Kits to ensure the safety of home drinking water. The organization is also the driving force behind proposed legislation, “The Safe Waterways Act,” to establish that Floridians have a Right to Know if public waters they recreate in are safe from fecal contamination.

After his retirement, John will continue to be involved with the organization in various volunteer and advisory capacities.

To acknowledge John’s tireless efforts and career of service, the CWK board has awarded John the title Calusa Waterkeeper Emeritus. “Emeritus is a rarely bestowed honorary title of a person who has made significant and exceptional contributions to an organization and plans to continue involvement following retirement,” explains Board President Jim Watkins.

“This is a time to honor John’s commitment and leadership, working for better water quality conditions in Florida to protect the public health. These efforts include his time as the Calusa Waterkeeper, but also extend to countless other stewardship activities since John came to Southwest Florida in 1978,” adds Watkins. We invite you to read more details on John’s many scientific, environmental and advocacy contributions.

Looking back, John says, “The past six years have been a wild but rewarding journey as the first Calusa Waterkeeper. It was an honor working with a team that included a special group of volunteers, staff and other dedicated water warriors that helped build the Calusa Waterkeeper organization from the ground up. We could not have done it without the loyal support of our members, the greater southwest Florida community and the backing of our parent organization the Waterkeeper Alliance. Our team welcomes your continued support, as the challenges ahead are many.”

Please stay tuned for future announcements on the organization’s search for a new Waterkeeper, and additional opportunities to honor John’s service to Southwest Florida.