By Rob Moher
President and CEO
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
On behalf of the more than 6,000 supporting families of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, I applaud the Bonita Springs City Council on its approval to hire Kevin Erwin Consulting Ecologists Inc. (KECE) in support of the ongoing work of the task force.
For the approximately 4,700 acres of Density Reduction Groundwater Resource (DRGR) area within eastern Bonita Springs, getting the water right is the linchpin for the Imperial River, for residents concerned about flooding, for water quality and for water recharge. The Conservancy is not opposed to looking at some options for development in the DRGR, but we first have to get the water right.
The city needs to identify the water resources needs, the necessary restoration projects for flood control, protection measures to ensure sufficient water recharge and standards for appropriate stormwater management to help the city meet its pollution reduction requirements for the Imperial River.
Many people correctly point out that there have been a number of studies completed addressing various components of the Bonita DRGR. However, none of these studies have truly presented a comprehensive assessment of the DRGR utilizing an ecological and water resources base as the foundation upon which planning concepts are analyzed.
Erwin will create the vehicle to get the water right by linking all of the existing information together and filling in any gaps that exist. This will result in data layers that show the historical and existing conditions within the DRGR, providing a solid foundation upon which the task force can meaningfully evaluate water resources issues.
After completion of this first phase, we hope that council will vote to hire KECE and a modeler to take this foundational information and create an integrated and objective decision-making tool that will allow the city to engage in a series of “what if” scenarios. With this decision-making tool, various activities and land uses can be inputted and the model will demonstrate how such uses will impact the various water resource components within the DRGR and downstream water bodies. Such an objective tool will provide a solid basis for the Task Force in making recommendations, and it will be a resource to council in its final decision about the future of the Bonita DRGR.
The Conservancy is honored to be a member of the Citizen Water Task Force and we invite interested stakeholders to support us in this effort to protect water quality. For more information, call 239-403-4220 or visit www.conservancy.org.