The Southwest Florida Marine Industry Association (SWFMIA)—Go Boating Florida’s parent organization—has a vested interest in our water quality as we clearly understand how vital clean water is to our area’s economic wellbeing and quality of life. Based on this understanding we would like to make the following comments and recommendation to our members and all Southwest Florida residents.
First, our existing water quality problems are nothing new. This year’s problems may be exaggerated, but they are an annual occurrence. Second, we have faced two distinct and different issues: the saltwater red tide, and the freshwater blue-green algae. We will address both issues to the best of our current understanding of each.
Karenia brevis, or red tide as it is more commonly known, is a naturally occurring event that has been documented in Florida waters as far back as the mid 1900s. According to Mote Marine, several components contribute to a red tide bloom: the organism must be present in the water; the right mix of water temperature, salinity and nutrients must combine; favorable conditions exist to concentrate and transport it; and finally, the presence or absence of other life forms that may encourage or inhibit the blooms.
Red tide is often associated with or blamed on coastal nutrient pollution. However, according to Mote, there is no demonstrated association between nutrient pollution and red tide formation or how often blooms occur. Red tide forms 10-40 miles offshore, away from human-contributed nutrient sources. However, Mote also states that “…scientific data available so far suggest that it is possible for nutrients flowing from land to sea—including natural AND human-contributed nutrients carried by storm water runoff and the input of rivers—to serve as additional ’food’ for growth of Karenia brevis red tide blooms that have moved to shore.”
The other concern associated with our recent water quality issues is freshwater blue-green algae, which are actually colonies of microscopic bacteria called Cyanobacteria. Taste and odor problems commonly occur with large concentrations of Cyanobacteria, and some types are capable of producing toxins.
The blue-green algae blooms are known to be caused by artificially elevated concentrations of nitrogen and phosphorous in our local waters. We understand there are multiple contributors to this problem (agricultural runoff, overuse of fertilizers, leaking septic tanks) and many projects need to be implemented before the issue will be completely mitigated.
SWFMIA is taking a three-pronged approach to our support and request for action:
The State has funded its part (50%) of the Central Everglades Recovery Projects, the US House has also appropriated the necessary funds, and now the US Senate has passed the necessary funding bill to support the construction projects.
We urge our residents to continue to engage our US Senators and Congressmen from Florida to keep this issue at the forefront.
We ask our State leaders to step up and pass the necessary legislation to establish better water quality standards for our State, especially for agricultural uses. We ask that residents contact their member of the legislature and let them know this is an important and necessary action to take if we are going to be able to address our water problems. On the provided form below, you can easily send our pre-written message to the appropriate State representatives and let them know of your concern for our State’s water quality standards.
We also ask our residents to exercise Best Management Practices (BMPs) regarding their activities that impact our groundwater and storm water runoff.
Some BMPs are:
- Learn the proper use and maintenance of residential septic tanks.
- Do not fertilize lawns between June and October or follow your local jurisdiction’s fertilizer ordinance.
- Plant native vegetation whenever possible instead of high-maintenance species.
- Do not over-irrigate lawns and horticultural vegetation.
- Do not perform auto maintenance on or adjacent to public rights of way that run off into waterways.
- Pick up and dispose of domestic animal waste properly to prevent surface water contamination.
- Adhere to the clean and green boating tips from the NMMA.
Make Your Voice Heard
Submit your info below to contact your local and national representatives to bring a voice to the water quality in Southwest Florida.