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Islanders and officials question water quality

By Staff | Aug 22, 2013

Islanders and local environmental officials have scheduled two upcoming events to address local water quality.

Hundreds of protestors are expected to gather near the mid-span bridge this weekend for the Save Our Bay rally. The Sierra Club and a number of other environmental organizations are attending the rally on Saturday at 8 a.m.

Jonathan Tongyai, president of the Sanibel-Captiva Kiwanis Club, said the water quality is the worst he’s ever seen since moving to the island in 1972. He organized the rally to grab the attention of state and federal politicians and demand they find a solution to the problem.

“Everywhere I go people are talking about it and they’re upset about it. The only way we’re going to get the attention of the politicians is to make sure they know their voters are angry,” he said.

The quality of local water fell into question after recent releases from Lake Okeechobee’s failing Herbert Hoover Dike System, resulting in the spread of polluted waters into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries.

Governor Rick Scott announced earlier this week that the Army Corps of Engineers had decided to significantly reduce the flow of water into South Florida estuaries.

On Monday, Aug. 26 from 5:30-7:30 p.m., local officials will host a community panel called “Coastal Estuaries in Peril,” at Tween’ Waters Inn on Captiva Island.

Panelists include Ray Judah, former Lee County Commissioner and coordinator for the Florida Coastal and Ocean Coalition; Jennifer Hecker, Natural Resource Policy manager with Conservancy of Southwest Florida; Rae Ann Wessel, Natural Resource Policy director at the Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation; and Greg F. Rawl, vice-chairman of the Southwest Watershed Council.