As it did a few months ago, foul water again surrounds Matlacha as the Fourth of July holiday looms, worrying residents and business owners. Starting this spring, conditions have fluctuated from intermittently icky to full-on dreadful. What the FDEP is doing to measure or help remains unclear.
Concerns are rising over the water quality of Matlacha Pass after cloudy-looking water was spotted, bringing eels and other sea life to the surface for air. “The water quality is very poor, there are suspended solids in the water and macroalgae that’s coating the bottom that may be the culprit behind a lot of this,” said John Cassani.
We are excited to release our Anniversary Commemorative publication recognizing our 25-year history, starting as CRCA – Riverwatch in 1995. This expanded souvenir newsletter is chock full of historical accounts from our founding and early years, along with a focus on key issues throughout our watershed.
An update from Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani regarding the cyanobacteria bloom on Lake Okeechobee and other local water quality issues. Thank you to pilots Ralph Arwood and Roy Plackis of LightHawk Conservation Flights.
Governor DeSantis just signed into law SB 712 – the self-proclaimed “Clean Waterways Act” – an ambitious misnomer for a bill that claims to be the solution to our mounting water quality issues, but falls far short of that mark. This bill has been praised by its supporters as one of the most environmentally progressive pieces of legislation in over a decade.
A group of local scientists are mapping out critical marine habitats in the Caloosahatchee in hopes that tape grass will flourish here again. SCCF and FGCU secured a $264,000, two-year grant from the U.S. EPA to map tape grass habitat in the fresher portion of the river.
A gigantic dust column from Africa’s Sahara Desert has traveled thousands of miles and will eventually settle over the U.S. The dust is so thick it can be seen in satellite images, and once it reaches Southwest Florida, it may impact water quality.
The Saharan dust headed our way this week could help feed red tide. In a Facebook post, Calusa Waterkeeper recently tested reddish patches three miles off of Big Carlos Pass. The test confirmed marine cyanobacteria Trichodesmium, also known as sea sawdust.
A blue-green algae bloom has taken over more than half of Lake Okeechobee. Satellite photos show the 720-square-mile lake as being mostly covered with a green sheen. “Based on the satellite imagery it looks like more than half of the lake has a bloom evident, so I’d estimate a 400-square-mile bloom,” said Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani.
While Calusa Waterkeeper is celebrating its silver anniversary, the organization says it has a long way to go to fulfill its mission of protecting and restoring the Caloosahatchee River from Lake Okeechobee to the coastal waterways.
Multiple sources say the president’s interior staff is planning to allow offshore drilling on the east side of the gulf again. John Cassani with the Calusa Waterkeeper says Southwest Florida wildlife is still suffering and says the potential plan would be like that a step backward.
“The chemicals used to disperse the oil are affecting wildlife,” he said.
This first flush, as Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani calls it, carries all the crud that’s built up during the dry season. Accumulated lawn chemicals, vacant lot litter, roadway oil and pet poop all wash off the landscape, sometimes in fish-killing or flow-blocking volume, as several recent examples in both counties, illustrate.