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Panel elects new officers, hears water quality update

By Staff | Jan 14, 2010

On Tuesday, the Captiva Community Panel elected officers for 2010 and heard a presentation from Mark Thompson of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation Marine Laboratory about the current results of the water quality monitoring study.

The officers of the panel, elected in December of 2007, were Gordon Hullar as president, Sandy Stilwell as vice president and treasurer and Mike Kelly as secretary.

The proposed officers for 2010 were Sandy Stilwell as president, Rick Hayduk as vice president, Jim Boyle as secretary and Mike Kelly as treasurer.

Hullar asked for additional nominees and when none were proposed, Hullar suggested that the four nominees be accepted. The election was unanimous.

Hullar immediately turned control of the meeting over to Stilwell.

“I want to thank Gordon for his service as our president,” Stilwell said before the meeting adjourned.

Hullar received a round of applause.

Though the panel heard updates from the Captiva Erosion Prevention District, the Hurricane Preparation and Response Committee and Max Forgey of Morris-Depew Associates, a significant portion of Tuesday’s meeting was devoted to Thompson presenting the results of the first year of the Captiva water quality assessment project, conducted by SCCF and funded by the Tourist Development Council through the Panel.

The water quality assessment project began officially in October of 2008 and combines, in addition to samples collected by SCCF, data from the Bayou Preservation Association, the Department of Health, the Blind Pass opening project, the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge and data from the scallop monitoring program in Pine Island Sound. Next year’s data assessment will include Lee County data, City of Sanibel data, SCCF RECON data and Southwest Florida Water Management data.

Thompson provided many charts and graphs illustrating the data collected, based on the parameters that SCCF tested for: enterococci bacteria, chlorophyll-a, total nitrogen, ammonia nitrogen and total phosphorus.

After running through all of the charts, Thompson provided a summary.

“Basically, bacteria levels on Captiva’s beaches are as good or better than Sanibel’s, they’re better than the average for all of Florida and they’re better than average for all beaches in the United States. We have higher concentrations of bacteria in the water after a rainfall events and we are pursuing characterizing some of the areas of concern,” Thompson said.

In addition, Thompson said the nutrient enrichment levels in the beaches and estuaries of Captiva – from chlorophyll-a, nitrogen and phosphorus – are on average, as low or lower than levels on Sanibel and throughout Florida.

“We have a few areas of concern, basically around golf courses and stormwater outfalls and those are on the estuary side.

“Ammonia levels after rain events indicate that there might be a few possible local surface water and ground water sources contributing to our results. So we’re going to look at that in year two of the project,” Thompson said.

In year two of the study, Thompson said the SCCF is going to conduct more intensive site surveying in areas of concern in order to come up with an answer as to why there are periodic high concentrations of bacteria and nutrients in the water and identify the sources.

Thompson also mentioned that SCCF is looking for volunteers to bag oysters with the Clam Bayou Habitat Restoration effort on Thursday, Jan. 28. For more information, contact SCCF at 4725-2329.

The Captiva Community Panel will meet again on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 9 a.m. at ‘Tween Waters Inn, 15951 Captiva Drive.