Water-Related News

What can we do about our water?

Hot chocolate-colored. Opaque. And occasionally smelly.

That’s how Sanibel residents Barbara Horvath and Liz Mostello-Harris would have described the retention pond abutting their backyards not long ago. But today, on a bright April morning, they’re taking stock of the changes they’ve noticed since they got swept up in the island’s all-hands-on-deck effort to clean up tainted water.

The two are maintaining a floating treatment wetland installed by an outside landscaping firm and have crafted, through trial and error, six more such hydroponic plant collections since. The plant roots absorb excess phosphorous and nitrogen, nutrients that feed algae and spark a chain reaction that impacts the water’s ability to sustain aquatic life.

“It still is a little murky, but nothing like what you would have seen before,” Mostello-Harris says. The women list species they’ve noticed of late: birds and turtles—and, the harbinger of change, fish.