By Jeanie Bicanich and Linda Penniman
Naples For the Collier Citizens Council
A public workshop has been scheduled to address a serious groundwater pollution problem here and throughout Florida.
The problem involves fertilizer runoff, which deposits large amounts of “nutrients” — dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus — in our upland waters. The nutrients promote algae growth, resulting in unsightly blooms that rob lakes, streams and canals of oxygen and kill fish.
For years the algae blooms have been treated with copper sulfate, a cheap algaecide that’s toxic to fish and other marine life. The dissolved copper doesn’t go away. It accumulates and washes into downstream bays and estuaries.
As a result, waterways throughout Collier County and much of Florida have been fouled. Naples Bay is listed among the worst in the country for copper pollution. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has put a number of our coastal areas on its “impaired” list and mandated that cleanup be planned.
The problem goes beyond state borders. The Gulf of Mexico has the largest dead zone in the world, largely due to unchecked nutrient runoff.
We can do something about this. A number of steps can be taken at the community level. These steps will be discussed at the workshop by local experts, people with experience in dealing with groundwater pollution. Speakers include:
Jennifer Hecker, Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Dr. Serge Thomas, Florida Gulf Coast University
Dr. Herb Schuchman, IslandWalk
Dr. Mike Bauer, city of Naples
Robert Wright, city of Sarasota
Jeff Lytle of the Naples Daily News will moderate.
Proper use of fertilizer will be discussed, as will methods to reduce algae buildup. Successful case histories will be presented, many showing how copper usage can be minimized or completely eliminated.
The workshop will be held on Oct. 30 from 3 to 5 p.m. at the Pelican Bay Community Center. Mark the date on your calendar and plan to join us.
Pollution is not just an environmental issue. If left unchecked, it will become a major pocketbook issue.