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Goss provides water quality update

By Staff | Oct 1, 2019

Area residents got an update on water quality from the man tapped by Gov. Ron DeSantis to make sure improvements are made.

Last weekend, the chairman for the South Florida Water Management District, Chauncey Goss, was invited to give a short talk at Shell Point.

The district was established after the massive hurricanes in 1926 and 1928 to develop ways to drain, move, and handle flood control zones in their district. These efforts started officially in 1930. The South district is the oldest and largest of Florida’s five districts, covering the areas just north of the Okeechobee to the Keys, populated by 8.7 million.

It is of particular interest to Southwest Florida as what happens to the water in and around Lake O has a direct impact on the Caloosahatchee and the Gulf.

“We have a very impressive set of tasks, given the management of the Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee and the other release rivers. Water quality is paramount to our success as an agency,” Goss told those attending the talk.

Goss, who is from Sanibel, has served on the boards of Captains For Clean Water and the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, both very important groups for regional water interests.

He’s also been on Sanibel’s City Council and various other boards.

Goss outlined several of the projects that are tied into our region, primarily focusing on Caloosahatchee projects that are ongoing to improve the overall quality of the water and to keep another red tide or blue-green algal event from happening as badly as it did the summer of 2018. Sea life by the literal ton washed up on beaches from Marco to Tampa with the beaches of Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel especially hard hit.

“The red tide and algae crisis opened a lot of eyes. Red tide is, obviously, a naturally occurring event, but there is a lot that can be done to keep it much less severe than it turned out to be. Gov. Ron DeSantis definitely saw the danger, which is why he’s moved so aggressively on funding and replacing the previous water boards,” Goss said.

DeSantis has pledged funding each year to the tune of around $600 million annually.

One of the larger projects is being installed up the Caloosahatchee from Fort Myers proper. It’s goal is to capture about 6 square miles of flow, test and observe the quality, remove nutrients if possible, and make the overall quality of the subsequent release higher in water quality through filtration efforts.

“Quality is one of the key concerns, along with quantity, obviously, even Gov. DeSantis has shown great interest in making sure the water we’re taking in to these pump stations is improved, but that we can also move larger amounts,” Goss said.

Lake Okeechobee is currently around 13 feet high, which is near max for the current facilities. The rainfall estimates for our district’s month to date is about 2.35 inches, which is down overall from last years average of 6.25 inches.

The website has accurate and up to date readings and views of each of the facilities which are updated regularly to keep the public as informed as possible.

“We want people to be more involved. It’s taxpayer money and we want you to know exactly where it’s going and exactly what we’re doing with it. Schedule visits to the newer facilities, call and ask us any questions you might have, we want to reach out to as many people as we can,” Goss said.

For additional information, please visit www.sfwmd.gov