Water-Related News

City of Venice wants Sarasota County to monitor Gulf for pollution, too

A simple requirement for the Venice City Council to sign off on a joint county stormwater monitoring permit turned into a lengthy discussion this week.

City leaders, in search of meaningful ways to limit pollution into local waterways, drilled city staff Tuesday morning when the permit came before them.

Their primary concern: why does the permit only monitor creeks and rivers, and not the outfalls that release stormwater into the Gulf? And why isn’t the county doing anything about it?

The Department of Environmental Protection permit is issued every five years to monitor the waterways. Tuesday’s presentation was an annual update.

It got Mayor John Holic thinking, which waterways are being tested that actually originate in Venice? And who’s monitoring the other water sources?

“Where is the actual source of the water coming in? We have Hatchet Creek and Curry Creek, and neither start in the City of Venice,” he said.

“This scares me,” Holic said. “If it’s garbage in, it’s going to be garbage out and you know who will get blamed (us)?”

“We’re already paying county taxes to have it monitored. Now, we have to pay our city taxes to monitor the water that doesn’t even originate in the city?” Holic asked.

Council Member Bob Daniels said he didn’t want to support the program at all unless the county provides understandable data and analysis as to what it’s doing to reduce pollution surrounding the city.

City Public Works Director James Clinch noted it’s a required program the city has participated in for at least 15 years. If the city doesn’t participate in the stormwater permit process with the county, it will have to pay for its own monitoring, he said.

The Clean Water Act authorizes the Environmental Protection Agency and states to regulate point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit program.

Clinch acknowledged the joint stormwater permit only meets the bare NPDES’s minimum compliance. The city is already preparing to do extra monitoring.

“There are economies of scale” in the joint permit effort, “and it has to be done,” said Council Member Rich Cautero. “Based on the heightened awareness on water quality, why is it the county hasn’t expanded its monitoring to the Gulf? Why is that not in the scope of the project going forward based on recent events?” he asked.

“We need to have better discussion about how to preserve our environment,” said Council Member Fred Fraize.

Revised flood insurance rate map panels

This document and associated information specifically relates to properties located within unincorporated Lee County only (properties that are not located within a city limit).

FEMA has issued new Flood Insurance Rate Maps along the Ten Mile Canal that will become effective on Dec. 7, 2018.

Only 17 map panels (out of 155) in Unincorporated Lee County have been revised as part of this particular map change.

The new maps more accurately assess flood risk along the canal than the existing maps (which were effective in 2008). These revisions are not directly related to Hurricane Irma. However, a Lee County consultant validated the accuracy of the proposed maps using the rainfall volumes and velocities from the two 2017 rain events that caused flooding along the canal.

These flood map effects vary by location, but fall into three general categories:

  • Those who were not previously in need of flood insurance may now need it.
  • Those who already have flood insurance may see rate increases.
  • Those who now have stricter engineering building requirements may have those engineering restrictions loosened (related to a building permit).

Information about flood insurance premium rates must be obtained from an insurance agent. Lee County encourages you to contact your insurance agent or mortgage lender as well with any additional questions.

For more details and to find out IF the December 7, 2018 map changes affect you, go to www.leegov.com/dcd/mapchanges.

Sarasota County BMPs to be employed proactively

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Sarasota County’s Stormwater Division crews are now taking a comprehensive, systematic approach consistent with industry standards in performing preventative maintenance. This approach is a departure from past practices of a reactive, complaint-driven process after a problem has occurred. This approach is identified as a Best Management Practice (BMP) for stormwater system maintenance. This approach enhances customer satisfaction, lowers long-term expenses and improves the drainage system’s overall performance.

The basic premise of the BMP is: Start preventative flood system maintenance at the downstream end of a system; clean and make functional the smallest constrictions in the conveyance system to improve and maintain consistent flows, typically driveway pipes; combine work efforts with any requests for service where the service is warranted, thus reducing crew travel time and mobilization costs; do any additional aesthetic improvements after the primary objectives are completed.

South Florida company addressing algal blooms with plastic beads

A South Florida environmental technology company has a plan to fight the state's blue-green algae problems with microscopic plastic beads.

Green Water Solution is one of four finalists for the George Barley Water Prize, a $10 million award started by the Everglades Foundation to address toxic algae blooms through new technologies. The prize is intended to fund a technology that can be used around the globe to reduce phosphorus contamination in water.

The CEO of the company, Frank Jochem, has been studying marine sciences and algal blooms for 25 years. He and the director of the George Barley Water Prize, Loren Parra, joined Sundial to talk about the technology.

Algae once again streaks Caloosahatchee's upper reaches, new aerial photos show

After a brief reprieve (to the naked eye, at least) from the toxic algae that had tainted the Caloosahatchee River since June, cyanobacteria appears to once again be clinging to the river's upper shoreline.

Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani flew over eastern Lee and Hendry counties Friday and photographed algae near the Alva bridge, Fort Denaud and in upriver oxbows.

Though he's not positive what species it is, "it certainly appears to be a cyanobacteria species, probably Microcystis or Anabaena," Cassani said.

Both types produce potent toxins that research has linked to neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, along with other problems including liver failure.

Releases of polluted Lake Okeechobee water down the river starting June 1 kicked off a disastrous season of toxic blooms that prompted Gov. Rick Scott to declare a state of emergency and spawned a spate of protests, town hall meetings and crowd-funded research.

Cape Coral leaders, residents, environmental watchdogs at odds over Chiquita Lock removal

Environmental watchdogs are at odds with the City of Cape Coral and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection over the potential removal of the Chiquita Lock.

The lock, located near the southern end of Chiquita Boulevard at Cape Harbour in southwest Cape Coral, means boaters must wait, sometimes 20 to 45 minutes with heavy traffic, to pass through when traveling to and from the spreader canal that runs west and then north, almost to Veterans Memorial Parkway.

Environmental watchdogs said the lock forms a barrier, protecting polluted water from reaching the outlying waterways.

Up next in the city’s request to remove the lock: Putting removal on the agenda for a council vote or creating a Committee of the Whole meeting, which would allow for public input prior to a vote scheduled for a later council meeting, said Cape Coral city councilman John Carioscia. He would like the vote to take place before the end of the year.

“We’ve done our due diligence,” Carioscia said of the initial FDEP tests that were done two years ago, before toxic algae blooms flowing from the Caloosahatchee River invaded many canals in Cape Coral’s system this summer.

Ponce De Leon Inlet to be dredged

Beginning the week of November 12, 2018 through November 27, 2018 (weather and equipment operation permitting), the Ponce Inlet is scheduled to be dredged. The contractor will off load dredge material at the vacant lot at the southerly end of Colony Point then the material will be transported to another location by dump trucks.

For additional information on this project, please contact Canal Maintenance Supervisor, Cathy Miller, Punta Gorda Public Works Department at (941) 575-5050 between the business hours of 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., Monday thru Friday.

SWFWMD aims to reduce risk of wildfires by performing prescribed fires

Setting prescribed fires in controlled settings can reduce the risk of wildfires burning out of control, as many Floridians witnessed during the state’s wildfire emergency last year. That’s why the Southwest Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) will be conducting prescribed burns in November and December in the CHNEP study area.

  • Charlotte County: Prairie/Shell Creek is located on the west side of U.S. Highway 17, approximately 5 miles northeast of Punta Gorda. Prairie/Shell Creek lies between U.S. 17 and the Peace River. Approximately 225 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.
  • DeSoto County: Deep Creek Preserve is located in southwest DeSoto County, east of Kings Highway. Approximately 465 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.
  • Manatee County:
    The Southfork Tract is located north of State Road 62, 3 miles east of Saffold Road.
    Myakka River-Flatford Swamp Preserve is located west of Wachula-Myakka Road, 2 miles north of State Road 70.
    Gilley Creek is located between State Road 62 and 64, east of County Road 675 and Coker Prairie is located south of State Road 64. Both the Gilley Creek and Cocker Prairie properties are southeast of Parrish.
    Approximately 400 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.
  • Sarasota County Myakka River - Deer Prairie Creek Preserve and Myakka River - Schewe Tract are located west of North Port, east of the Myakka River, and north and south of Interstate 75. Approximately 800 acres will be burned in small, manageable units.

Some major benefits of prescribed fire include:

  • Reducing overgrown plants, which decreases the risk of catastrophic wildfires
  • Promoting the growth of new, diverse plants
  • Maintaining the character and condition of wildlife habitat
  • Maintaining access for public recreation

The District conducts prescribed fires on approximately 30,000 acres each year. Click here to learn more about why igniting prescribed burns now prepares lands for the next wildfire season.

Battle won, fight goes on

Southwest Floridians horrified by this summer's unprecedented environmental disaster received some good news on the water quality front recently.

Gulf waters off the beaches of Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach saw an abatement of the red tide blooms that resulted in not only massive fish kills, but the deaths of sea turtles, dolphins and manatees by the score.

Also abating is the blue-green algae blooms that slimed the Caloosahatchee and canals in Cape Coral and other communities.

Water quality samples for both red tide and Cyanobacteria are finally showing minimal levels of the algaes that had proliferated to record numbers coast to coast, fed by nutrient-laden discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee here and the St. Lucie River on the east coast.

Marine task force pushes for fertilizer ban

Fertilizers should be banned year-round, according to the Marine Resources Task Force.

The board is currently putting together a proposal to extend the current four-month ban during the wet season to the entire year.

MRTF Chair Bill Veach said the first reason for this proposal is the algae blooms: "Whatever is being done now is not enough, it's not working, and as an island that's on the receiving end of all this nasty water, we should be setting an example of how to minimize fertilizer use."

Fertilizer fuels the growth of algae, he said.

"Green lawns lead to green water. That's not good for anybody."

Nov. 16: Free red tide forum in Boca Grande

Learn about Florida red tide blooms — including the challenging bloom of 2017-2018 — during a Boca Grande Red Tide Forum featuring scientists, university professors and wildlife rehabilitators.

The free public forum, co-hosted by Mote Marine Laboratory and the Barrier Island Parks Society, will take place from 3-5 p.m. Nov. 16 in the Boca Grande Community Center Auditorium, followed by a reception with light bites and wine in the Center’s Woman’s Club room. Speakers from Mote, Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW), University of South Florida (USF) and Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program (CHNEP) will each give a 10-15 minute presentation and then participate in a 20-minute panel discussion.

The event is free. RSVP is not required but is encouraged: RSVP here. Any updates will be posted at mote.org/boca.

Blue-green algae makes an unwelcome return in SWFL

An uninvited guest has made a return to Milinda May’s backyard.

“When it was bad it was really bad,” May said, referring to blue-green algae. “We had it for several weeks. It was thick. Stinky.”

Blue-green algae has been floating on parts of the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Denaud, directly through May’s backyard.

“The way it creeps in,” May said. “It’s like a monster the way it creeps in.”

May isn’t alone. Other neighbors, like Rich Williams, are being haunted by blue-green algae when just a few weeks ago they thought they were done with the environmental disaster.

FGCU researchers warn of ciguatera, a dangerous toxin found in reef fish

Researchers from Florida Gulf Coast University are warning seafood lovers about toxins in our water that can make them sick.

“Everybody should be aware of it,” FGCU Marine Science Professor Dr. Mike Parsons said.

He’s talking about ciguatera, which he told WINK News is, “a form of seafood poisoning.”

Dr. Parsons has been studying toxins in our oceans for years. He and graduate students from FGCU are getting to the bottom of a mystery in Florida’s marine food chain.

“I love seafood,” Nicholas Culligan said, who is one of the graduate students taking on the task at Tennessee Reef just off the Florida Keys. “I want to make sure that everything I’m eating doesn’t send me home writhing in pain.”

Palmer: Several issues in Polk-Swiftmud legal showdown

During the past few months, I’ve been watching two contrasting trend lines.

One depicts falling water levels in the Polk County section of Peace River in the absence of significant rainfall during the past month or so.

The other depicts the rising tensions in reaction to the legal dispute between Polk County and the Southwest Florida Water Management District (Swiftmud) over conflicting plans to tap the Peace River to provide two growing areas of Florida with future drinking water supplies.

I’ve also been rereading a book published in 2003 recounting the history of the Tampa Bay water wars that were supposedly settled 20 years ago with the creation of a regional utility called Tampa Bay Water.

I was thinking about how all of these things are connected when I read a recent letter to the editor published in The Ledger that proposed that the downstream permit request could be modified “if and when Polk County starts to impact the Peace River.”

That sentiment is at least 75 years too late. Overpumping of the aquifer in Polk County eliminated the river’s base flow. Mine impoundments intercepted surface flow to river tributaries. Half a century of municipal and industrial sewer discharges and untreated urban stormwater runoff polluted the river’s headwaters.

Red tide, warm water slowing stone crab harvest

,p> A 130-mile long swath of red tide has shifted several times along the Southwest Florida coast, from Pinellas County to Collier County, for about a year.

Gravinese said Mote conducted an experiment from its docks near New Pass and in Sarasota Bay and found that crab mortality rates skyrocketed in stagnant water.

Jim Gowett, the assistant general manger at Star Fish Company market & Restaurant in Cortex fishing village, said warmer water in Manatee County is keeping crabs dormant. Crabber are going father into the Gulf or north to Crystal River for better luck.

"They are averaging about 2,000 pounds a day 70 miles north of us," Gowett said.

Coastal development, sea rise sent Hurricane Irma storm surge to more homes, study shows

MIAMI — Sea rise and development have put more Florida property at risk to hurricane storm surge flooding — about 43 percent more — according to a recent study that looked at Hurricane Irma’s effect with different sea levels.

NOAA Tidal gauges in Key West show that South Florida has seen about seven inches of sea level rise since the 1970s, which is part of the reason sunny day flooding has worsened in recent decades.

‘Bubble Curtain’ is latest attempt to prevent algae from entering canals in Cape Coral

A new test to fight Cape Coral’s algae began Monday, and this one is a little different than previous ones.

A bubble curtain will be stretched across a canal just north of the Cape Coral bridge; the devices is more than 200 feet long.

“When the curtain’s up, anything that’s floating down the river whether it’s trash, whether it’s cut grass clippings… anything that’s coming down the river you’re going to see it being diverted by the system,” said Robbin Huffines of Vertex Water Features.

The goal of the bubble curtain is to stop blue green algae from clogging up the canal.

Cape Coral is testing several ways to fight the algae, and just last month they installed booms in other areas around the city, like the Palaco Grande Canal.

Lee Board of County Commissioners amends grant agreement for water project

Fort Myers – The Lee Board of County Commissioners today approved a grant amendment agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to increase total grant funding to $2 million for the Nalle Grade Stormwater Project.

The project is designed to intercept stormwater runoff from the Bayshore Creek watershed just downstream of Nalle Grade Road. Water will be pumped from an existing channelized section of the waterway and placed into a settling area for pre-treatment. Then, it will be delivered into a restored wetland area for further pollutant removal before returning to Bayshore Creek. The system is designed to bypass flood flows when major storm events occur so as not to contribute to area flooding.

The Caloosahatchee estuary has a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) designation for Total Nitrogen and an adopted State of Florida Basin Management Action Plan to lower this pollutant. Commissioners spend millions of dollars annually on projects to reduce pollutants in the estuary.

Construction is expected to begin in January 2019. The total cost of the project is estimated at $3.2 million, which includes the grant funding.

New Lee County water treatment plant open, supplies clean water

Making sure the water you drink is clean, a facility almost a decade in the making will pump water to faucets in Lee County. WINK News explored the upgrades this local plant is using to make sure the water residents use at home is safe.

The Green Meadows Water Treatment Plant in Lee County became operational Monday and will soon send water to 60,000 homes.

Clean drinking water is a top concern for Fitzgerald.

Cutting edge technology inside the new water treatment plant in Lee County is helping keep drinking water safe. The water won’t taste any different, and it won’t cost residents of Lee County more money. The different forms of treatment being used at the new Green Meadows plant are using less chemicals and are almost more cost-efficient for the facility.

Project Manager Hank Barroso was one of those who cut the ribbon on the $75 million facility on Monday.

Lee mayors battle water managers over Caloosahatchee river rule

An administrative judge heard arguments Monday for and against a water flow rule that some say will do too little to help the ailing Caloosahatchee River.

Several cities in Lee County filed an administrative challenge against the South Florida Water Management District over what’s called a minimum flow level for the river and its estuary.

Setting a minimum level of water is designed to protect the river from further harm but may not do enough to provide freshwater during the dry season, critics say.

“Everything that flows down the Caloosahatchee or doesn’t flow down the Caloosahatchee effects Captiva,” said David Mintz, with the Captiva Community Panel. “And our understanding is that the tape grasses, the organisms that live in tape grasses and the fish that grow into adults in the tape grasses, and the birds that rely on the organisms that rely on the tape grass all affect the waters surrounding Captiva.”

Watershed groups have a positive impact on local water quality, study finds

Economists have found that in the United States, watershed groups have had a positive impact on their local water quality.

A new published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides the first empirical evidence that nonprofit organizations can provide public goods, said Christian Langpap, an Oregon State University economist and study co-author with Laura Grant, an assistant professor of economics at Claremont McKenna College.

In economics, a public good is a commodity or service that individuals cannot be effectively excluded from using, and where use by one individual does not reduce availability to others. For these reasons, public goods can't be provided for profit and nonprofits can play an important role.

"Environmental nonprofit groups are assumed to provide public goods," said Langpap, an associate professor in OSU's College of Agricultural Sciences. "But until now that assumption has never been tested empirically. We determined that the presence of water groups in a watershed resulted in improved water quality and higher proportions of swimmable and fishable water bodies."

The presence and activity of watershed groups can impact water quality in various ways, including oversight and monitoring, direct actions such as organizing volunteers for cleanups or restoration, and indirect actions like advocacy and education.

The researchers' analysis combined data on water quality and watershed groups for 2,150 watersheds in the continental United States from 1996 to 2008. The number of watershed groups across the lower 48 tripled during this period, from 500 to 1,500.

Cooler weather won't help with red tide, but season change could

SUNSET BEACH — It’s late October and the water is still that dark red tide color at some southern Pinellas County beaches.

Like many vacationers this year, Angie Smith and her family were concerned about the red tide.

"I can’t imagine that it would last that much longer just because it's been going on for so long," said daughter Ally Smith.

Luckily it wasn’t as bad as they thought and they’ve been able to enjoy their vacation at Treasure Island Beach.

But everyone can agree that this red tide has lasted a long time. Oceanographers from NOAA say that this algae bloom actually started last October in the Gulf before making its way to shore.

So what will make this toxic algae bloom disappear? NOAA says cold weather really has no impact, but season changes do.

North Port encouraging the voluntary non-use of fertilizer year-around

On Tuesday, October 9, 2018, North Port City Commission unanimously approved a resolution to encourage the voluntary non-use of fertilizer year-around. Read the full resolution here »

The City of North Port recognizes that fertilizers from many sources can enter into our waterways and may contribute to algal blooms including the Florida red tide organism, Karenia brevis, which has caused widespread detrimental effect along the coastal communities. These nutrient pollutants can affect the regional watershed, and the City of North Port desires to be part of a regional effort to improve water quality. Water quality is critical to the Charlotte Harbor estuarine system and watershed. It is also critical to the City of North Port’s environmental, economic, and recreational prosperity and to the health, safety and welfare of the citizens of the City.

The City of North Port’s Fertilizer Ordinance has a restricted period of June 1 through September 30 each year which prohibits use of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizer on turf, but landscape plants can still be fertilized with fertilizer containing 50% or more slow release nitrogen. In the period after September 30 and before June 1, fertilizing of both turf and landscape plants are allowed. In a previous Commission meeting on September 25, 2018, it was the desire of the North Port Commission to adopt a resolution as soon as possible to encourage non-use of fertilizers year-round for the health, well-being and safety of the community.

This new resolution approved on October 9, 2018, will contribute to a regional effort to reduce fertilizer runoff into waterbodies that flow to the estuary and ocean. This resolution encourages a voluntary non-use of fertilizer year-around, which is more restrictive than the City’s fertilizer ordinance.

‘Bubble Curtain’ is latest attempt to prevent algae from entering canals in Cape Coral

A new test to fight Cape Coral’s algae began Monday, and this one is a little different than previous ones.

A bubble curtain will be stretched across a canal just north of the Cape Coral bridge; the devices is more than 200 feet long.

“When the curtain’s up, anything that’s floating down the river whether it’s trash, whether it’s cut grass clippings… anything that’s coming down the river you’re going to see it being diverted by the system,” said Robbin Huffines of Vertex Water Features.

The goal of the bubble curtain is to stop blue green algae from clogging up the canal.

Cape Coral is testing several ways to fight the algae, and just last month they installed booms in other areas around the city, like the Palaco Grande Canal.

Those booms float on top of the water, with hopes of blocking the algae from entering.

With the new test that’s being installed, it will all be underneath the water, so boaters won’t have any problems getting around them.

It will create bubbles, which should break up any algae so that the green algae no longer reaches the canals with no way to get out.

Lee County Commission amends grant agreement for water project

FORT MYERS – The Lee Board of County Commissioners today approved a grant amendment agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to increase total grant funding to $2 million for the Nalle Grade Stormwater Project.

The project is designed to intercept stormwater runoff from the Bayshore Creek watershed just downstream of Nalle Grade Road. Water will be pumped from an existing channelized section of the waterway and placed into a settling area for pre-treatment. Then, it will be delivered into a restored wetland area for further pollutant removal before returning to Bayshore Creek. The system is designed to bypass flood flows when major storm events occur so as not to contribute to area flooding.

The Caloosahatchee estuary has a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) designation for Total Nitrogen and an adopted State of Florida Basin Management Action Plan to lower this pollutant. Commissioners spend millions of dollars annually on projects to reduce pollutants in the estuary.

Construction is expected to begin in January 2019. The total cost of the project is estimated at $3.2 million, which includes the grant funding.

Prevent red tide? Start with more wetlands, experts say

Three Democratic federal lawmakers will work toward increasing water quality monitoring in the Gulf of Mexico and creating more wetlands to clean water flowing into the Gulf and other waterways.

U.S. Reps. Kathy Castor and Charlie Crist, and U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson crafted a preliminary action plan Wednesday after meeting with local scientists and business leaders about the ongoing impacts of red tide.

“Even though the tourism numbers have been up … boy, this could really set us back unless we work together to address the red tide,” Castor said during a roundtable discussion in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

Three scientists with varying areas of expertise all agreed: Red tide is a naturally occurring environmental phenomenon, but large blooms are likely fueled by warmer Gulf temperatures as the result of climate change and, possibly, by nutrient runoff from agriculture.

Canal Watch Group launched in North Port

The City in cooperation with citizens of North Port have recognized the need to form a Canal Watch Group. The Canal Watch Group is open to anyone that wishes to conduct observations on any stretch of canal. Members will become ambassadors for our canals and environmental stewards for conserving North Port’s natural resources.

The canal system in North Port serves as the city’s drinking water source and must be protected from pollution. One major goal of the Canal Watch Group is to educate the public on how to minimize pollutants in our water resources through communication within our communities and neighborhoods. Another goal is to observe the canals for any illicit discharge or general unhealthiness. Examples of concern include excessive fertilizing or fertilizing during prohibited wet months. Concerns also include oil sheen, illegal dumping, improper disposal of plant and animal waste, algae blooms, excessive turbidity, dead fish and other affected wildlife. To help protect our water quality, North Port City Commission unanimously approved a resolution on October 9, 2018, to encourage the voluntary non-use of fertilizer year-around.

Lee Board of County Commissioners amends grant agreement for water project

Fort Myers – The Lee Board of County Commissioners today approved a grant amendment agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to increase total grant funding to $2 million for the Nalle Grade Stormwater Project.

The project is designed to intercept stormwater runoff from the Bayshore Creek watershed just downstream of Nalle Grade Road. Water will be pumped from an existing channelized section of the waterway and placed into a settling area for pre-treatment. Then, it will be delivered into a restored wetland area for further pollutant removal before returning to Bayshore Creek. The system is designed to bypass flood flows when major storm events occur so as not to contribute to area flooding.

The Caloosahatchee estuary has a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) designation for Total Nitrogen and an adopted State of Florida Basin Management Action Plan to lower this pollutant. Commissioners spend millions of dollars annually on projects to reduce pollutants in the estuary.

Construction is expected to begin in January 2019. The total cost of the project is estimated at $3.2 million, which includes the grant funding.

New SCCF Stranding Map documents mass mortality of sea turtles

A bloom of Karenia brevis starting in October 2017 has resulted in the largest number of sea turtle deaths ever attributed to a single red tide event, according to experts.

The Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation reported that the algal blooms start in the Gulf of Mexico, but they are fed and perpetuated by high levels of nutrients washing in from farther inland.

In June, an unprecedented number of sea turtle strandings - sick, injured or dead - began washing up on Sanibel and Captiva beaches. When a stranding is reported, SCCF's staff and interns mobilize to collect data and document the death as part of the National Sea Turtle Stranding and Salvage Network. If the turtle is still alive, it is taken to the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife for rehabilitation.