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Tuesday, 16 August 2016 12:06

Walking The Waters Edge Featured

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Fort Myers Beach has been
facing an ongoing problem with
our water quality issue and anyone
who lives here has witnessed our
alluring beach go from a crystal
blue to a murky brown. Residents
and tourists alike have noticed the
smell and almost slimy sand along
the beach. As you walk the beach
you will notice when the water
breaks on shore it carries an almost
black soot that settles at the shoreline.
What is this going to do for
our community considering our
economy is based on the constant
flow of tourists coming in and out?
“People here today realize that
we're 100 percent tourism based as
a community and an economy.”
John Heim stated, Fort Myers resident
who is a representative for the
Southwest Florida Clean Water
Movement. “They know without
clean water, we’ll lose our billion
dollar tourism industry.”
There is a network of optical
water quality sensors distributed
throughout the Caloosahatchee
river and estuary to provide
real-time, water quality data
to scientists, policy makers, and
the general public. The River Estuary
and Coastal Observing Network
known as RECON has high
quality autonomous sensors that
can detect the presence of algal
blooms and nutrient hotspots.
We have been experiencing record
rainfall this year and the water that
goes into Lake has to go somewhere
so it seems the real argument
is where the water should go.
The 4,400 square miles of Lake
“O” contributes tothe water that flows into the
Caloosahatchee estuary and the
Gulf of Mexico. Overtime, these
watersheds have changed from
low-nutrient loading marshes and
wetlands to high loading urban and
agricultural land uses. These nutrients
increase turbidity and decrease
concentrations of dissolved oxygen
also fueling nuisance algal blooms.
People who frequently come
to Fort Myers as their preferred vacation
spot have commented on the
decline of our pristine water.
Diane C. of Missouri, a frequent
visitor to our very own Pink Shell
Resort said, “We love the ocean
but we were so disappointed when
we saw it. The water was brown
and murky; it felt like we were
swimming in the Mississippi River
instead of the Gulf Coast. It makes
me wonder what it’s doing to the
people who swim in it considering
it harms the fish and wildlife.”
The sea grasses that have
washed up on the beach lately in
shear force are low-nutrient
adapted communities that have
been affected in this crisis. These
sea grasses in turn directly affect
the fish, crustaceans, and marine
mammals. “The state of Florida
needs to fix this otherwise people
will be opting to spend their money
elsewhere” said Diane. “When I
think of the Gulf Coast of Florida I
think of white sandy beaches and
blue ocean water, unfortunately
that’s not what we got during our
stay.” Instead, the water on FortMyers Beach is murky and gray
much like cement mixing water.
Some local environmentalists
were pointing fingers at US
Sugar. John Heim said “The sugar
Industry is guilty of back pumping
into the lake.” The water management
report says that 10 inches is
from rainfall the rest is back-pumping
because all the public lands by
Lake “O” are filled with water and
it has to go somewhere. Flood
control laws state that when water
reaches a certain level, it must be
pumped into Lake “O”. Water experts
would like to remind us that
this was once the Everglades. It
was drained so more than a million
people could live here and the
water is creeping back up and managing
it can be difficult. “There
are certainly a number of other
sources that are also feeding into
the water quality problems,” said
Jennifer Hecker of the Conservancy
of Southwest Florida.
Hecker blames much of the polluted
waters from residential runoff
between the lake and Fort Myers.
The issue we’ve been experiencing
is something we should all
be knowledgeable of due to the
fact it directly affects us as a community.
The problem is not going
away anytime soon as a matter fact
it has continuously gotten worse
over the summer months. We
should all know where we stand on
this before it’s too late.
Colin Conley

Read 1479 times Last modified on Tuesday, 16 August 2016 12:10