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Sanibel Communities for Clean Water Program launched

By Staff | Jul 19, 2017

The City of Sanibel officially launched a new program, Sanibel Communities for Clean Water, which will help communities on the island improve water quality.

“It’s very exciting. We put in a lot of effort regionally to improve water quality. This program makes sure we are doing what we can here on Sanibel to improve water quality,” Environmental Specialist Dana Dettmar, who is the project manager for the Sanibel Communities for Clean Water Program, said. “Any of the best management practices is going to be on a voluntary basis. We do more to help where we can for communities that rank higher on the list with poor water quality.”

She said the program is part of the city’s comprehensive nutrient management plan, which simplifies data to identify nutrient hot spots across the island. Phase three of the plan, Dettmar said, involved a partnership with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation to perform sampling in 72 water bodies – fresh water from lakes, ponds and other storm water catching areas.

The samplings provided baseline water quality data that is presented on the interactive website, www.sanibelcleanwater.org. So far, she said they have received positive feedback from the community, as well as some communities reaching out for technical assistance who are higher on the impaired list.

“We took the data and ranked each body from most impaired, or poor water quality, to least impaired, or what we consider to be good water quality. We used state standards to determine if they were impaired, or not,” Dettmar said. “We want residents to realize what they do in their own backyard does affect water quality.”

Each community is ranked with one being the most impaired and 72 being the least impaired. Number 72 is Beach Road Villas and No. one is Herons Landing.

Dettmar said Herons Landing body of water is next to a wastewater plant this is no longer commissioned. She said the city decommissioned the plant in 2006-2007.

The nutrients, legacy nutrients, are still in the ground water. Dettmar said they are using what is called bioremediation, which uses plants to remove nutrients.

“Unfortunately improvements in water quality are not something you can see on a small scale,” she said. “In this area, in particular, it will take several years until we see improvements.”

The city, Dettmar said are in the stages of creating incentives for the program.

“In the near future we hope to have some workshops about water quality, or particular best management practices,” she said.

One of those will include a rain barrel workshop, which will inform community members how they can use one in their yard to reduce the amount of storm water runoff going into a lake.

Another step for the program is providing a self assessment report card, similar to the one used for the golf course report cards. Dettmar said the idea behind the self assessment is to have the communities assess what they are doing for water quality and grade themselves to see what is being done well, and not so well.

“When they reach a certain grade we want to recognize them as a Sanibel Slough Friendly Community,” she said, complete with signage, or a plaque they can post in their community.

For more information, contact Dettmar at danadettmar@ mysanibel.com, or call the Natural Resource Department at (239) 472-3700, ext 390.