County commissioners ask congress to fund water clean-up efforts

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Green algae is popping up in SWFL waters, and people living nearby are fed up with the poor water quality.

County commissioners are now asking for consistent funding to aid in the efforts to clean up local waters.

The algae came on quickly this year, and people want it stopped.

“I’m not sure what to do at this point but I’m glad I ran into you guys because maybe the public can see how bad this problem is,” said neighbor Ronald Moniz, who lives along the Caloosahatchee River.

Moniz says the green algae filling up the Caloosahatchee at the Franklin Lock in Alva is worse than he’s ever seen, after the Lake Okeechobee releases begin every year.

“We’ve already noticed dead fish and I’m sure it’s going to continue. Something needs to get done,” Moniz said.

On Monday, commissioners signed a resolution for President Trump and congress, asking for federal funding for projects like finishing repairs on the Herbert Hoover Dike.

They also asked for maximum flexibility for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reduce discharges in the river and to send the water elsewhere.

“We’re asking to look at any resources to send water south instead of the Caloosahatchee,” said county commissioner Cecil Pendergrass.

Lee County Natural Resources Director Roland Ottolini adds that the algae and brown water is a natural problem that is made worse by the Lake O releases.

“The water is from Lake O and the Caloosahatchee watershed so when it rains, that water is moving somewhere and that’s a large basin that works its way here,” Ottolini said.

Pete Quasius, advocacy director with Audubon of the Western Everglades points out that there is definitely a solution.

“The solution is to reduce the nutrient flows and to provide an opportunity to mimic the natural conditions we have,” Quasius said. “It’s not gonna be cheap, it’s not gonna be quick, but we are moving in a positive direction if we can find sufficient funding to get these projects done.”

This effort is in addition to several Lee County mayors joining together to call on releases be sent north and south to relieve SWFL.

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