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Brockovich to lead water quality panel discussion

By Staff | Oct 2, 2018

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich has been across the state this week, learning about the severe water quality issues Florida is dealing with and she will culminate her educational experience with a panel discussion Wednesday in Fort Myers.

Brockovich will join Captains for Clean Water, Calusa Waterkeeper and The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation at the Burroughs Home & Gardens-at The Gale McBride Pavilion- from 1-3 p.m. to speak on what she has seen from Satellite Beach, to Lake Okeechobee, to the Caloosahatchee River.

The panel also will be there to inform guests on the latest information regarding red tide and blue-green algae conditions, as well as what hardships come with finding a solution.

“We are pleased to host such an informed group of speakers to share their knowledge with the public about a topic that affects each of the residents in Southwest Florida,” said Bob Bowcock, Brockovich associate and managing director of Integrated Resources Water Inc. in a release.

Representing Calusa Waterkeeper will be John Cassani.

Calusa Waterkeeper is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the protection of the Caloosahatchee River & Estuary, Lake Okeechobee, Nicodemus Slough, Charlotte Harbor, Estero Bay, the near-shore waters of Lee County and their watersheds through education and promotion of responsible use and enjoyment by all people.

Speaking on Captains for Clean Water’s behalf, will be Captain Daniel Andrews.

Captains for Clean Water is a nonprofit organization that advocates for the elimination of harmful, large-scale Lake Okeechobee discharges into the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie River estuaries by restoring the natural flow of Lake Okeechobee water south into the Everglades and Florida Bay. Restoring the natural southern flow of Lake Okeechobee water is essential to the survival of our estuaries, the health of the Everglades, and the long-term viability of South Florida’s largest drinking water source, the Biscayne Aquifer, proponents of flow restoration say.

Speaking on SCCF’s behalf will be Natural Resource Policy Director Rae Ann Wessel.

Wessel has just returned from Washington, D.C. where she requested federal action to reauthorize the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act, set to expire this weekend, and EPA funding for the healthy beaches program.

SCCF is dedicated to the conservation of coastal habitats and aquatic resources on Sanibel and Captiva and in the surrounding watershed. From its earliest days, SCCF has been known as a land trust with an impressive acquisition record. The story of SCCF’s land conservation efforts spans almost five decades on the islands on Sanibel, Captiva, Buck Key, Albright, York, Coconut and the Long Cut preserve on Pine Island.

Wessel is more than happy to provide Brockovich, a California resident, with all of the information she needs when it comes to our issues.

“It will be very helpful to hear her impressions, to be able to answer any of her questions and to provide her with accurate facts,” Wessel said of Brockovich’s trip to Florida. “We want to make sure we are a resource for her.”

Wessel and SCCF have deep roots in science and how the Everglades ecosystem works-something they hope to be able to pass on to Brockovich as she advocates for the people of Florida and to get these issues solved.

Another big concern of Wessel’s and Brockovich’s, is that of public health.

“I’m concerned with the way the state is handling the issues,” Wessel said.

But the greatest importance of this whole trip, is to ensure she has the tools she needs, namely the knowledge she needs, to be a powerful speaking voice in Washington D.C.

“We have facts on the causes, solutions, biology and can even give her the political angle,” Wessel said. “We need to make sure the person speaking on our behalf has all of the information they need. And we want to make sure that is the case.”

There will be limited seating at the event, and attendees may bring lawn chairs for additional seating.

There is no entry fee, though donations to these organizations are encouraged and appreciated, and will be split evenly among the groups.

The venue was offered by The Uncommon Friends Foundation, which maintains the historic property.

The Gale McBride Pavilion is at 2505 First Street in Fort Myers.