John Cassani named Caloosahatchee Waterkeeper
For decades, John Cassani has championed the Caloosahatchee and its watershed, but now the Alva scientist has an official job title for his passionate avocation: Calusa Waterkeeper.
He'll be pioneering the position in Southwest Florida, though Waterkeepers work in other parts of the state and the nation as part of a nonprofit environmental advocacy network.
In his new role, Cassani, retired deputy director of the Lee County Hyacinth Control District, will work to protect and preserve waters of the Caloosahatchee region "by combining his firsthand knowledge of the waterway with an unwavering commitment to the rights of the community and to the rule of law," according to a release. His territory: Lake Okeechobee west through the Caloosahatchee River to the coastal estuaries and near-shore waters.
“Waterkeeper Alliance is thrilled to have John Cassani to be the eyes, ears, and voice for this vital watershed and community,” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., president of Waterkeeper Alliance said in the release. “Every community deserves to have swimmable, drinkable and fishable water, and John Cassani is a proven leader in the fight for clean water in the region.”
That fight is nothing new to biologist Cassani, who has been part of most of the region's ecologically focused nonprofits over the years — Riverwatch, the Caloosahatchee Bromeliad Society, Audubon, the Southwest Florida Amphibian Monitoring Network and the Southwest Florida Watershed Council, which he helped found in 2001.
Calusa Waterkeeper is a new name for the nonprofit Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association, also known as Riverwatch, which formed 21 years ago to support the health of the Caloosahatchee and its watershed. It's part of Waterkeeper Alliance, a global movement uniting more than 300 Waterkeeper organizations around the world and focusing citizen advocacy on issues that affect waterways, from pollution to climate change. Waterkeepers patrol and protect more than 2.4 million square miles of rivers, streams and coastlines in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa.