The City of Fort Myers has applied to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Hazard Mitigation Grant Program for funds to pay for canal armoring and soil stabilization to mitigate erosion along multiple canals.
The city proposes to use varying combinations of Concrete Cloth, HydroTurf, and Flexamat systems to harden vulnerable sections of drainage canals to protect against canal slope failure due to erosion and scour. It is intended to prevent the exposure of utilities and erosion to roadways and private properties. Adjacent utilities and infrastructure, as well as private property, shall be protected from damage and disruption. The project will not significantly change the cross-section of any of the canals. There are some areas where the canal bank has washed out that will be repaired back to the original bank as part of the project.
The following canals are being proposed for mitigation work:
Matthew Drive to Bowling Green Boulevard
Rogers Weir to McGregor Boulevard
Gallee Way to Central Wastewater Treatment Plant
Ballard Road to New York Avenue
New York Avenue to Lift Station-20
Ford Street to Henderson Avenue
For more information, please visit the link below.
Army Corps to begin Lake Okeechobee releases to Caloosahatchee on Nov. 19th
November 18th, 2022
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Jacksonville District will resume releases from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee Estuary from the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam (S-79) at a fourteen-day average pulse release of 1,200 cubic feet per second beginning Saturday, Nov. 19. No lake releases are planned for the St. Lucie Estuary.
The target is right in the middle of the REstoration COordination & VERification (RECOVER) optimal flow envelope for the Caloosahatchee. Water from the lake will only be released in amounts needed to supplement local basin runoff to meet the target of 1,200 cfs, and the target is consistent with the recommendation from the South Florida Water Management District for this week.
"Lake Okeechobee has risen three feet in the past seven weeks due to Hurricanes Ian and Nicole,” said Col. James Booth, Jacksonville District commander. “We had paused our releases for Hurricane Nicole and have not made releases since the storm. Based on conditions in the lake, we must begin releases to help manage lake levels. We have worked together with our partners and stakeholders to understand how lake releases could affect conditions in the Caloosahatchee River Estuary at this time. We are making our decision looking ahead toward next wet season and are developing a seasonal strategy where we aim to manage lake levels by making beneficial releases to the extent possible. To curtail the high-volume releases that our plan calls for right now, we are going to utilize our make-up release tool which allows us to make releases at lower levels and bank the volume not released."
Make-up releases are a water management tool within the Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule 2008 (LORS08) which allow water managers to bank releases not made in order to release them later when the schedule calls for lower releases. LORS08 Part D guidance currently recommends up to 4,000 cfs at S-77 and up to 1,800 cfs at S-80. The volumetric difference between actual releases and the guidance will be put into a water bank. As conditions in the estuaries recover and our schedule goes into dry season mode, releases will be continued using the available volume of banked water. Our intent is to release this volume at beneficial levels in the dry season. We are committed to transparency throughout the implementation of make-up releases.
With the lake over 16 feet, USACE has been executing inspections of the south side of the lake from Moore Haven to Belle Glade every two weeks, Once the lake reaches 16.5 feet, the frequency of inspections on the south side of the lake increase to weekly and the remainder of the dike begins receiving inspections every two weeks.
HHD was inspected thoroughly before and after Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, and no problems were identified.
Lake Okeechobee is 16.30 feet today. That is 0.16 feet higher than last week, 0.94 feet higher than 30 days ago, and 0.3 feet higher than it was on this day last year.
SCCF: Water quality deteriorating after Ian and Nicole
From the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation:
Conditions around Sanibel Island deteriorated quickly after the passing of Tropical Storm Nicole, with red tide blooming in high concentrations that have caused large swaths of fish kills on Sanibel beaches and substantial respiratory irritation to people breathing in the toxins. Red tide first began blooming after Hurricane Ian due to upwelling of nutrients from offshore and the substantial amounts of nutrient rich runoff from flooding and rainfall. Tropical Storm Nicole hit Florida just 43 days later and brought with it strong onshore winds that pushed the blooming red tide onshore.
In addition to red tide, which is caused by microscopic phytoplankton called Karenia brevis, TS Nicole also pushed copious amounts of red seaweed on shore. Red seaweed is not considered toxic, but it can be a nuisance when pushed onshore, where it degrades and reintroduces nutrients back into the water, which can exacerbate the red tide bloom. When dead fish decompose in seawater, they also release nutrients back into the water, and rapid bacterial decomposition can create low oxygen zones that perpetuate the red tide bloom and cause additional stressors for marine life.
These natural, although devasting, phenomena were caused by two sequential storms that caused upwelling followed by onshore winds, and they were worsened by nutrient rich runoff. Although nutrients from Lake Okeechobee water releases have been found to contribute to feeding red tide, lake releases during this period have been minimal, with most water coming from our watershed. No releases have been made from the lake since TS Nicole hit, and flows to S-79 have been in the 14-day average optimal flow envelope (750 – 2,100 cubic feet per second) for 21 days since our recovery of high flows during Hurricane Ian.
Lake Okeechobee levels are at their highest point this year (16.22 feet), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is now considering making releases from the lake to protect its ecology and so that levels are low enough when the wet season begins next summer.
SCCF has requested that the Army Corps keep releases to the Caloosahatchee Estuary within the lower end of the optimal flow envelope and consider other outlets from the lake for releases while the red tide bloom is raging off the coast adjacent to the mouth of the Caloosahatchee. This should help to minimize the nutrient loading
Polk County Health Dept. issues Health Alert for Lake Whistler-NE
AUBURNDALE – The Florida Department of Health in Polk County has issued a Health Alert for the presence of harmful blue-green algal toxins in Lake Whistler - NE. This is in response to a water sample taken on 11/03/2022. The public should exercise caution in and around Lake Whistler - NE
Residents and visitors are advised to take the following precautions:
Do not drink, swim, wade, use personal watercraft, water ski or boat in waters where there is a visible bloom.
Wash your skin and clothing with soap and water if you have contact with algae or discolored or smelly water.
Keep pets away from the area. Water, where there are algae blooms, is not safe for animals. Pets and livestock should have a different source of water when algae blooms are present.
Do not cook or clean dishes with water contaminated by algae blooms. Boiling the water will not eliminate the toxins.
Eating fillets from healthy fish caught in freshwater lakes experiencing blooms is safe. Rinse fish fillets with tap or bottled water, throw out the guts and cook fish well.
Do not eat shellfish in waters with algae blooms.
What is blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae are a type of bacteria that is common in Florida’s freshwater environments. A bloom occurs when rapid growth of algae leads to an accumulation of individual cells that discolor water and often produce floating mats that emit unpleasant odors.
Some environmental factors that contribute to blue-green algae blooms are sunny days, warm water temperatures, still water conditions and excess nutrients. Blooms can appear year-round but are more frequent in summer and fall. Many types of blue-green algae can produce toxins.
Is it harmful?
Blue-green algae blooms can impact human health and ecosystems, including fish and other aquatic animals.
For more information about blue-green algae and other harmful algal blooms (HABs), please visit the link below.
Red tide getting worse in Southwest Florida
Red tide lines Southwest Florida’s coast from south Lee County into Sarasota.
And the bloom appears to be growing.
Health officials in Charlotte County issued an alert for the presence of a red tide bloom near Whidden Key, east of Lemon Bay and Buccaneer Bend. The water sample was taken a week ago.
When Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani sees this, it reminds him of the last time a hurricane came through Southwest Florida. After Irma, a red tide bloom went up and down the coast for about two years.
“It looks a little bit like a repeat of what happened. After Irma, we had tremendous, tremendous amount of rainfall associated with a hurricane that put a lot of nutrients in the water, other pollutants, gas and oil and things,” Cassani said.
There aren’t any fishkills near the coastline yet, but photos show the Gulf is a color wheel of red, brown, green and blue.
“It looks pretty broadly distributed right now near shore,” Cassani said.
Cassani said it looks to be at the beginning of the bloom.
Then, Cassani said, comes the casualties in the fish and other sea life.
Red tide conditions return to Southwest Florida
Current Conditions – Nov. 9th, 2022
The red tide organism, Karenia brevis, was detected in Southwest Florida. Over the past week, K. brevis was observed in 50 samples. Bloom concentrations (>100,000 cells/liter) were present in 15 samples: seven in Sarasota County and eight in and offshore of Charlotte County. Additional details are provided below.
Forecasts by the USF-FWC Collaboration for Prediction of Red Tides for Pinellas County to northern Monroe County predict net western movement of surface waters and net southeastern transport of subsurface waters in most areas over the next 3.5 days.
In Southwest Florida over the past week, K. brevis was observed at background to low concentrations offshore of Hillsborough County, background concentrations in Manatee County, background to high concentrations in and offshore of Sarasota County, very low to high concentrations in and offshore of Charlotte County, very low and low concentrations in Lee County, and low concentrations offshore of Collier County.
Reports of fish kills suspected to be related to red tide were received over the past week in Southwest Florida in Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee counties. For more details, please visit: https://myfwc.com/research/saltwater/health/fish-kills-hotline/.
Respiratory irritation suspected to be related to red tide was reported over the past week in Southwest Florida in Sarasota, Charlotte, and Lee counties. Additional details are provided in the Southwest Coast report. For recent and current information at individual beaches, please visit https://visitbeaches.org/ and for forecasts that use FWC and partner data, please visit https://habforecast.gcoos.org/.
Due to the upcoming holiday, the next complete status report will be issued on Thursday, November 10th. Please check our daily sampling map, which can be accessed via the online status report on our Red Tide Current Status page. For more information on algal blooms and water quality, please visit Protecting Florida Together.
This information, including maps and reports with additional details, is also available on the FWRI Red Tide website. The website also provides links to additional information related to the topic of Florida red tide including satellite imagery, experimental red tide forecasts, shellfish harvesting areas, the FWC Fish Kill Hotline, the Florida Poison Information Center (to report human health effects related to exposure to red tide), and other wildlife related hotlines.
To learn more about various organisms that have been known to cause algal blooms in Florida waters, see the FWRI Red Tide Flickr page. Archived status maps can also be found on Flickr.
The FWRI HAB group in conjunction with Mote Marine Laboratory now have a Facebook page. Please like our page and learn interesting facts concerning red tide and other harmful algal blooms in Florida.
Coastal safety after Hurricane Ian: Q&A with Florida Sea Grant experts
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA INSTITUTE OF FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES
Hurricane Ian’s impact on Florida’s coast lingers, even weeks after the storm’s passing, leaving questions about derelict vessels, water quality and more. Florida Sea Grant UF/IFAS Extension agents and other experts answer commonly asked questions about coastal safety after the hurricane.
Panelists include the following Extension faculty and specialists:
Scott Jackson, Bay County agent
David Outerbridge, Lee County Extension director
Andrew Ropicki, marine resource economics specialist
Kate Rose, Charlotte County agent
Michael Sipos, Collier County agent
The panelists answered these questions:
Is it safe to go in the water in Lee, Collier and Charlotte counties?
Where can I report a displaced vessel at sea?
What can boaters do to help?
With the commercial fishing industry hurt, what needs to be done to keep it thriving?
Ian flooded our waterways with debris, silt and nutrients. How concerned should we be with red tide?
With the underwater topography changed after Ian, what will it take to make it safe for marine activities?
Where can small business owners go to find disaster relief assistance?
Any other information to share?
Visit the link below to see their answers.
Researchers watching for potential algae surges as part of Hurricane Ian aftermath
Levels of blue-green algae surged after Hurricane Irma, causing massive mats and major fish kills months after the storm.
Could this happen again next spring? That, according to Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) ecology and environmental studies professor Barry Rosen, depends on several factors. Blue-green algae competes with aquatic plants for nutrients. If those plant populations were devastated by Ian, that would give the algae more room to grow.
“It’s possible that there’s been a die-off of those plants,” Rosen said, “and this spring when the blue-green algae start populating the river and they can come from the lake, both. What if the competition is gone?”
The algae also needs light to thrive. Right now, the water is still clouded with pollutants and runoff. and light levels are not ideal for a major algal bloom. The cloudiness of the water will change in the next few months, but will it be enough to cause major blooms?
“It’s usually March that you could start to see them,” Rosen says. “So, will it be a bad year? Hard to say.”
“I don’t know if we should expect it,” FGCU Water School professor Mike Parsons said, “but there’s enough evidence that we should definitely look into it and study it.”
Lee Commissioners approve Conservation 20/20 purchases in Bokeelia, North Ft. Myers
FORT MYERS – The Lee Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to pursue the purchase of two parcels through the Conservation 20/20 program; both properties are adjacent to already preserved land.
The parcels are:
1.99 acres located at 5031 Pine Island Road N.W., Bokeelia. This land is near the county-owned Buttonwood Preserve in Bokeelia.
0.23 acres located within an existing Conservation 20/20 preserve boundary known as the Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve.
The Conservation Land Acquisition and Stewardship Advisory Committee (CLASAC) unanimously recommended approval of both parcels.
The Lee County Conservation 20/20 program acquires land from willing sellers for resource-based recreational opportunities such as hiking, birdwatching, nature study, photography and paddle craft launches.
The program for environmentally sensitive land acquisition and management has preserved more than 30,000 acres since its inception.
In addition to recreation, conservation lands help the county to protect drinking water, enhance water quality, protect areas from flooding and provide wildlife habitat.
For more information, visit www.Conservation2020.org.
To receive updates from Lee County Government, sign up for the newsletter here: www.leegov.com/resources/newsletters.