Science and Restoration Committee Water Quality 2014
The Estuary Conservation Association (ECA) is a local non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the long-term conservation of wildlife and natural resources within the Cocohatchee estuary. The ECA Science and Restoration committee analyzed water quality data for algae (chlorophyll a), nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus), and bacteria (fecal coliform) to determine trends and to identify actions needed to maintain water quality conditions within the estuary.
The Cocohatchee estuary includes waters from the Collier County line south to Vanderbilt Beach Road and east to the weir in the canal along the north side of Immokalee Road. The waters are designated “Class 2” (shellfish propagation and harvesting) and most of the area is also Outstanding Florida Waters (OFW). The “Class 2” water designation sets a low bacteria standard and the OFW places an anti-degradation standard on the estuary.
Good water quality is necessary to support a diverse biota. The FDEP, Collier County, and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida monitor water quality in the estuary. Recent water quality reports from these agencies found that fecal coliform, iron, and mercury (statewide) exceed state standards. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) has set recovery standards for fecal coliforms and mercury. (Iron is the least environmentally sensitive and recovery emphasis has been placed on the fecal coliforms.) Agency reports confirmed fecal coliform problems, identified a significant trend for only salinity and conductivity. FDEP has recommended nutrient standards for the estuary that are intended to prevent degradation of existing levels. The Collier County Watershed Management Plan itemizes development impacts and their effect on estuarine water quality.
The Science and Restoration committee’s review of available data confirms fecal coliform exceedances, and does not identify increasing algal or nutrient trends; however, their concentrations are just below state standards. The ECA committee recommends the following actions to improve stormwater runoff quality and prevent further degradation of estuarine water quality. (Some of these recommendations are from U of Florida IFAS Florida-Friendly environmentally sustainable landscaping practices.)
- Ensuring pet waste are picked up and properly disposed;
- Ensure stormwater systems function properly;
- Ensure trash is properly managed;
- Ensure boat wastes are properly managed;
- Water efficiently for healthy landscapes and minimize runoff;
- Fertilize appropriately to minimize runoff and leaching of nutrients;
- Reduce stormwater runoff to reduce nutrient pollution and minimize erosion;
- Protect the waterfront and prevent direct contributions of wastes.
To learn more, click on the link below: