This summer we are once again faced with heavy rainfalls and the negative impacts that terrestrial runoff imparts on our estuaries and oceans. As of this writing, we are intermittently experiencing heavy runoff from the Caloosahatchee River.
The sources of our freshwater influx are from the Caloosahatchee River. Some of the water coming down the river originates from Lake Okeechobee, and some of the water comes from the watershed between Lake Okeechobee and San Carlos Bay – from Lee and Hendry Counties.
Much of the water is tinted brown; the coloration comes from chemicals that have leeched out of trees along the river – these are tannins and the compounds that impart the coloration to tea and coffee. The brown coloration is not harmful, and a normal part of our mangrove communities.
The water that comes out of the Caloosahatchee is usually carrying increased levels of nutrients that wash in from agriculture, urban development, and lawns. These nutrients can, at times, trigger large growths of planktonic marine algae, typically known as plankton blooms. Some of these plankton bloom species can be harmful to animals, and are called Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs).
Right now, we are not experiencing HABs in our immediate region. We monitor the water quality conditions closely and will be glad to pass along any information we have to you. You can also find updates on beach water quality here.
This chronic input of nutrient-laden water has a tremendous impact on our estuaries and adjacent coastal waters, and we need to enact the solutions to stop it. Please insist that all your elected and municipal representatives continue to find solutions to return our waters to sustainable systems.