Matlacha Civic votes in favor of Ceitus barrier replacement
Following presentations from two experts on the pros and cons of replacing the Ceitus barrier in Cape Coral, the vote to have the barrier replaced was nearly unanimous.
“It was clear that the vast majority of our membership was in favor of having the barrier put back,” said Matlacha Civic Association president Bill Stoelker. “We had been asked to take a position on this matter and our position is now official.”
According to Stoelker, many of the people attending the overflow meeting had already made up their minds as to the need for the replacement of the barrier.
“Most of the people in favor of replacing the barrier have witnessed the unfavorable changes to the pass and realize the importance of replacing the barrier to preserve the water quality of the area,” Stoelker said. “We also are in favor of doing whatever else is necessary, such as replacing the current sewer system, to improve the water quality in the pass.”
Stoelker also said that the purpose of the meeting was to once again hear from experts, both sides of the issue. Addressing the group was geologist David Scott and biologist Aaron Adams.
According to Scott, the current situation is not harmful to the pass and stood in favor of not replacing the barrier on the so-called “spreader” canal in the northwest Cape.
“We have seen studies that the storm water runoff into the pass is not polluting the area,” Scott said. “Studies show that perhaps the storm water runoff is among the cleanest in the state and pollution is not a problem.
If we dam the thing back up, we don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”
Adams said the real concern is water flow and how the saline and freshwater mix is affecting the species who generally inhabit the area.
“I am 100 percent for putting the barrier back primarily because of the result of habitat loss. When the barrier was in place we saw a more natural mix of salt and fresh water as the fresh water, for the most part, was diverted and it was a slower mix which results in less of an impact on bottom dwellers such as sea grass and oysters,” Adams said. “When the bottom feeders no longer exist, then other species such as snook are impacted. When their food source is gone, they are forced to relocate and in many instances the relocation is not for the better.”
According to Stoelker, the vote was 50 to put back the lift or another barrier, one vote to leave things as they currently are and one abstention.
“The main subject of the meeting was to take a position on the return of the Ceitus Boatlift, or other barrier that would restrict the flow of fresh water from Cape Coral into the Matlacha Pass. The people of Matlacha have witnessed the change of water quality and reduced marine life first-hand in our own canals and bays right behind our homes,” Stoelker said. “We have seen the excess sand and fill on Shoreline Drive continue to accumulate. We have seen major changes to our water quality over the past two years and the only thing that is different is the removal of the lift. We don’t think this is the only answer to insure the best possible water quality, but it is a start. Our position is to put the barrier back so that the spreader system can operate as it was designed.”