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Sanibel voices call for action again on water

By Staff | Jul 24, 2018

Kevin Ruane

As the body of a whale shark washed ashore on the island over the weekend, the mayor and city of Sanibel provided a water quality update and voiced another call for action.

On July 21, Mayor Kevin Ruane reported that city officials had the opportunity during the week to participate in an aerial survey of the Caloosahatchee and its estuary from Sanibel to Lake Okeechobee. He noted the presence of blue-green algae and again voiced a call for action to handle the situation.

“The water quality problems associated with Lake Okeechobee releases and runoff from the Caloosahatchee watershed must be addressed immediately,” Ruane said. “This is critical for the health and safety of our coastal communities, to protect the ecology of our river and estuary, and to preserve our quality of life and local economy.”

“We need your help in getting the federal and state governments to take swift action to address this important issue,” he added. “Please consider writing to your elected leaders and agency representatives to let them know how these water quality issues are impacting your quality of life.”

The following day, the carcass of a whale shark washed ashore near the Island Inn. Staff from the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum were on scene; the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission responded. The cause of death was not immediately known, but samples were taken.

According to Ruane, the aerial survey took place on July 17. It revealed that blue-green algae was present in varying degrees from Shell Point to the Moore Haven Lock, located at Lake Okeechobee. Algae was also present in Lake Okeechobee and was visible moving through the lock structure.

“The ongoing freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee and stormwater runoff from the Caloosahatchee watershed continue to support an extensive blue-green algae bloom,” he said.

The blue-green algae, also referred to as cyanobacteria, has been identified as Microcystis aeruginosa a known toxin-producing species, according to Ruane. The blooms have resulted in beach closures along the Caloosahatchee and have prompted the Florida Department of Health to post warnings to avoid contact with the algae.

“Next week, I will be joining Councilwoman (Holly) Smith and Director of Natural Resources James Evans in Washington, D.C., to participate in the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force meeting and to meet with our representatives to advocate for our water quality priorities,” he reported.


Lee County Board of County Commissioners/Lee County Tourism Development Council:

– Commissioner Cecil Pendergrass, Chairman

Email: dist2@leegov.com

P.O. Box 398

Fort Myers, FL 33902-0398

State of Florida:

– Gov. Rick Scott

Email: rick.scott@eog.myflorida.com

Office of Governor Rick Scott

The Capitol

400 S. Monroe St.

Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001

South Florida Water Management District:

– Ernie Marks, Executive Director

Email: emarks@sfwmd.gov

– Jaime Weisinger, Local Governing Board Rep.

Email: jweisinger@sfwmd.gov

– Federico Fernandez, Governing Board Chair

Email: fefernan@sfwmd.gov

– Rick Barber, Local Governing Board Rep.

Email: fbarber@sfwmd.gov

Florida Department of Environmental Protection:

– Noah Valenstein, Secretary FDEP

3900 Commonwealth Boulevard M.S. 49

Tallahassee, FL 32399

– Drew Bartlett, Deputy Secretary Ecosystems Restoration

Email: drew.bartlett@dep.state.fl.us

Federal Government:

– President Donald Trump

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, D.C. 20500

– Senator Bill Nelson

United States Senate

716 Senate Hart Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Email form: www.billnelson.senate.gov/contact-bill

– Senator Marco Rubio

284 Russell Senate Office Building

Washington, DC 20510

Email form: www.rubio.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/contact

– Congressman Francis Rooney, 19th Congressional District

Washington, DC Office

120 Cannon HOB

Washington, DC 20515

Email form: francisrooney.house.gov/contact/

– Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart, 25th Congressional District

Washington, DC Office

440 Cannon House Office Building

Washington, DC 20515

Email form: mariodiazbalart.house.gov/contact-mario

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers:

– Colonel Jason Kirk, District Commander and District Engineer

Email: Jason.a.kirk@usace.army.mil

– Lt. Col. Jennifer Reynolds, Deputy District Commander for South Florida

Email: Jennifer.A.Reynolds@usace.army.mil