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Rotary Happenings: Captains for Clean Water quantifies water quality impact with numbers

By Staff | Apr 13, 2017

“In an age when man has forgotten his origins and is blind even to his most essential needs for survival, water along with other resources has become the victim of his indifference.”

-Rachel Carson

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary invited two young men to join us for our meeting last Friday and both young professionals are definitely not indifferent to water quality issues here in Florida. We hear a lot about the environmental impact that the redirecting of historic water flow of the Everglades/River of Grass to Lake Okeechobee and the pollution of the water in the Lake O. We hear a lot about the release of this water when the lake water is high and in danger of flooding the surrounding area.

“The devastating discharges kill seagrass, oysters and other marine life, causing lasting damage to estuary ecosystems.” – Captains for Clean Water

Environmental organizations and nonprofits throughout Florida have been to Tallahassee and lobbied for change involving the inflow and outflow of Lake O and have and are making progress on this issue.

However, our guest speakers last week, Captain Daniel Andrews, board member of Captains for Clean Water and Chris Davidson, member of CCW and manager of Island Inn, Sanibel have added an additional layer of persuasion directed to the passage of legislative Senate Bill 10.

Florida Senate Bill 10 was filed on Jan. 26, 2017. Senate President Joe Negron’s plan announced last August to purchase land south of Lake Okeechobee for the EAA Reservoir, which will eliminate or dramatically reduce the horrific discharges to both coasts of Florida and return a flow for freshwater to be cleaned and sent south to a dehydrated Everglades and collapsing Florida Bay. Contact our State Rep. Ray Rodrigues and tell him you want this bill passed.

It’s about the money baby, the economic impact on businesses here in Florida dependent on clean water. Numbers from Captains for Clean Water: The fishing industry is a $9.3 billion business, tourism $69 billion, marine industry $15.3 billion, jobs supported by fishing 123,000, jobs supported by tourism 1.1 million, jobs supported by marine industry 183,000 and decline in Lee and Martin County property values due to poor water quality $969 million dollars.

For every dollar spent on Everglades restoration projects, the local economy will see a $4 rebound. Money talks and this was a brilliant approach by Captains for Clean Water.

Captain Andrews and Davidson have made many trips to Tallahassee giving them the opportunity to meet with legislators and appropriation committee members allowing them to present the economic factors collected from businesses throughout Florida that our reliant on clean water. These nutshell facts are meant to bring about a gut reaction. These facts demand attention regarding water quality here in Florida and the impact water quality makes on not only the natural environment but the economic environment as well.

Andrews and Davidson are passionate about the environment for extremely good reasons. First of all, they are young.

Andrews is only 27 years old and Davidson not much older. If water quality in Florida is ignored, it is their generation that will pay the biggest price. Secondly, for both men their livelihood hinges on the health and well-being of the natural environment in Florida. Captain Andrews is a fishing-guide. He witnesses first-hand what poor water quality is doing to the estuaries and bays. No fish, no job. Davidson is in the hospitality business here on Sanibel and as the manager of Island Inn, knows that water quality is of major concern for guests of the hotel. When news reports of poor water conditions on Sanibel are broadcast, hotel reservations decline and cancellations are devastating for his business. Good stewardship of our waters presents a bright future for the state, but neglect will only assure the economic decline in the state.

Captains for Clean Water is a membership driven nonprofit. They want to improve the water quality in the estuaries, bays, gulf waters and ocean waters here in the state. A $30 membership fee will support this young nonprofit organization and the amazing work they are doing.

Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at 7 a.m., Friday mornings at the Dunes Golf and Tennis Club. Guests are always welcomed.