There may not be a topic that gets people’s attention in Southwest Florida easier than the condition of our water resources.
Be it concerns about phosphate mining, red tide, sewer malfunctions or the question of supply and demand, everyone has a stake in the water that we drink, cook with, wash our clothes with and bathe in.
We praised Charlotte County when it hired a water quality manager. And now that person has stepped up his efforts to protect and plan for the county’s future water needs through studies and planning for a water quality monitoring system.
In the interest of transparency, and to possibly get some helpful ideas, the public is invited to the first of several strategy sessions on water quality monitoring scheduled for 6 p.m. Jan. 19 at the Charlotte Harbor Event and Conference Center, 75 Taylor St., Punta Gorda. There will be three sessions in all that are open to the public with the second planned for Jan. 20 at the Ann and Chuck Dever Recreation Center in Englewood and the third Jan. 26 at the event center in Punta Gorda.
Each of the sessions will focus on issues and strategies concerning the area where the session is held.
The main purpose of the meetings, according to a Daily Sun story by Betsy Calvert, is to present a plan for water sampling and ask the public for input and to allow them to have questions answered by Water Quality Manger Brandon Moody.
Sites are already planned for monitoring stations and the plan is available for view at bit.ly/3JtUcKc. There you can see an 11 page report that outlines sampling, costs, locations, timing and what the tests will analyze.
The county took the bold step of hiring Moody after the tumultuous summer of 2018 when red tide and blue green algae outbreaks decimated waterways and beaches in Southwest Florida and the state as a whole.
Adding sampling and monitoring of our water supply should help locate sources of excess nutrients that are responsible for the growth of algae and red tide while killing off seagrass and muddying our waters.
The county has already embarked on a septic to sewer program that should make a big difference as it relates to septic leaks that release nutrients into waterways. Another target of monitoring and studies are sewage treatment plans.
Monitoring waterways has been a topic for many years — peaking with a program put in place by the state to monitor the flow and health of the Peace River years ago after a campaign by the Daily Sun newspaper, then the Charlotte Sun, and local environmental advocates concerned over phosphate issues near the headwaters of the Peace.
That program, however, had no oversight of internal waterways in Charlotte County or other rivers and streams that impact our quality of life. Those include some waterways that begin in North Port and end up in Charlotte Harbor.
To pay for the monitoring program, Charlotte County has budgeted $50,000 from its general fund to enhance money paid by property owners in three storm water Municipal Service Benefit Units in mid-, south and west county.
We applaud the county’s efforts to make sure our water is safe and clean. We urge any citizen who cares about the quality of their water to attend one of the public sessions.
Image Credits: Charlotte County Government