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PURRE joins Watershed Working Group

By Staff | Mar 11, 2009

On Monday, PURRE announced that they have joined with representatives of Lee County, the South Florida Water Management District, Audubon, the Watershed Council and others to form the Caloosahatchee Watershed Working Group.

This group, led by Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall, will serve as a forum where a diverse group of stakeholders will meet regularly to prioritize and build consensus around various projects, programs and initiatives to improve water quality in the Caloosahatchee Watershed. This forum will also discuss and develop legislative priorities.

“We at PURRE applaud this effort and Commissioner Hall’s foresight and leadership in putting it together,” said PURRE Chairman Michael Valiquette. “This is the best approach to water quality issues in our estuary and is one of the basic philosophies upon which PURRE was founded. Getting stakeholders together and coming up with common sense solutions, then working together to move those goals through the process is the best way to meet these challenges and help our community. We look forward to working with everyone.”

With the recent adoption of the Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan, there is a renewed focus on implementation and funding. This plan, released earlier this year, was a joint effort of the South Florida Water Management District, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. This will be the first comprehensive plan to address multiple aspects of the water quality issue including storage, runoff flows, pollution sources, best management practices, wetlands restoration, and reducing nitrogen and phosphorus loading in our water.

PURRE is one of 25 organizations, local governments and agencies acknowledged for its contribution to this effort.

Valiquette added that there is a lot of activity on the issue of water quality right now, not the least of which is the U.S. Sugar land acquisition and efforts to restore a southern flow in the Everglades.

In addition, a decision is expected soon on “total maximum daily loads,” the maximum amount of pollutants that are allowed to flow into a body of water each day, and other water quality initiatives are emerging as well.

“With all that is going on, this group will help to avoid competing priorities and provide a tremendous opportunity for stakeholders to coordinate their efforts to be a more effective voice on these issues,” added Valiquette.