State of the Bay: Beach back waters show improvement
By Bob Petcher
While increased regulatory freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River continue to reduce salinity levels, carry harmful pollutants and thus aid in negatively impacting the area's environmental conditions, there is some good news about Estero Bay.
Recently, James Beever of the Southwest Florida Regional Planning Council made a positive-minded presentation on the State of the Bay water quality to the Fort Myers Beach Town Council. The 2014 report was prepared by SWFRPC and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program and funded by the City of Bonita Springs.
Major conclusions to the five-year analysis on the status of water quality, hydrology, wildlife and other measurable parameters from 2009 to 2014 focused on betterment.
"There are some significant areas in improvement in water quality associated principally with the adoption and implementation of strict local government fertilizer ordinances and construction of filter marshes in the headwaters of tributaries leading to nutrient reduction principally in phosphorous and chlorophyll-a and increases in colonial bird nesting," said Beever. "A reduction in chlorophyll-a means a reduction in algae blooms."
The environmental specialist stated there have been "significant gains" to seagrass acreage since a decline was reported between 1950 to 1999. There were 3,769 acres of seagrass in Estero Bay in 1950, according to estimations. That number lowered to 3,590 acres as of 2006.