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Area Water Woes Ease

Valerie Alker

Lee County’s water woes were the topic of discussion at this month’s Chamber of Southwest Florida luncheon meeting. 

A summer of near record breaking rainfall and fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee fouled area waterways, but Sanibel Vice Mayor Doug Congress told business leaders Congress  the barrier island’s beaches are getting back to normal.

“We’ve got a couple areas that do have some algae but the water is much clearer right now and now that the water releases have stopped you’ll see a gradual improvement,” he said.

On the downside, Congress said negative messages about Sanibel’s beaches were posted this summer at the popular “Trip Advisor” website.  

Congress was part of panel that also included Lee County Commissioner Larry Kiker, Ron Hamel with the Gulf Citrus Growers Association and State Representative Matt Caldwell.

Caldwell said can be done to improve area water quality by acting quickly to address problems close to home.

“Half of the water problem in SW Florida comes from our own land. We’re drained Cape Coral, we’ve drained Lehigh, we’ve drained Port LaBelle,” he said. That water really needs to be slowed down.  And those are problems that I’m looking for that we can get done today – in a one or two year time horizon”.

Releases from Lake Okeechobee by the Army Corps of Engineers aimed at protecting the integrity of the dyke surrounding the lake added to water woes this summer.   Discharges have been significantly reduced in the last month.