Water-Related News

Estero Bay estuary flushed by heavy rains brings darker than normal water, but fishing is OK

It's difficult to say just how much rain water has washed through Estero Bay in the past week, but one thing is for sure: it was too much.

Upward of 20 inches or more fell in localized spots inside the Estero Bay watershed, a 360-square-mile section of south Lee County that includes tributaries like Hendry and Mullock creeks and the Imperial and Estero rivers.

Some of the dozens of creeks and tributaries flowing into the bay flooded, reportedly at levels not seen here in decades.

"The bay has several creeks that flow into the bay that get really fresh, and Estero Bay during high-flow events gets real fresh," said Rick Bartleson, a water quality scientist at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation on Sanibel. "One of the problems is all this rain we get, most of that rain used to sit in wetlands and sink into the aquifers and then slowly make it’s way out as ground flow or sheet flow to the estuary, which would takes months. Now with the ditches and drainage you have rapid changes in salinity."