Congressman Rooney hosts water quality meeting in Naples

Reporter: Nicole Lauren
Published: Updated:
FILE: Image shows blue-green algae buildup around the Calusa Waterkeeper. (Credit: WINK News/FILE)

On Friday morning water activists and Congressman Francis Rooney held an hour-long meeting to discuss how to prevent another water crisis like Southwest Florida experienced in 2018.

One of the biggest questions they are looking to an answer is, can the next algal bloom be forecasted?

Here’s a list of attendees from left to right at the meeting:

Howard Simon – Former director ACLU
Dr. Larry Brand – University of Miami
Eileen Connolly-Keesler – CEO Community Foundation of Collier
Lois Kelley – Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Martha Collins – Collins Law Group
Melissa Phillips – Erin Brockovich Foundation
Pete Quasis – Snook Gamefish Foundation
John Paul “JP” Brooker – Ocean Conservancy
Daniel Andrews – Captains for Clean Water
Congressman Francis Rooney
Rob Moher – President and CEO of the Conservancy
Dr. Greg Tolley – FGCU
Rae Ann Wessel – Sanibel Captiva Conservation
Terry Gibson – Environmental Defense Fund
Edith Widder – CEO Ocean Research and Conservation Association
Lee Richardson – PREACH-Peace River-Charlotte Harbor Environmental Awareness Group
Phoebe Menzer – PREACH-Peace River-Charlotte Harbor Environmental Awareness Group
Bradley Cornell – Audubon Florida
Dr Judy Hushon – Conservancy of Southwest Florida and League of Women Voters
Tessa Lesage – SWFL Community Foundation

Southwest Florida residents remember how awful it was as canals were filled with blue-green algae, and nobody wants that to happen again. The Mayor says the information from the meetings like the one scheduled today, is making the city better prepared.

“You know we had people in Cape Coral with surgical masks on that can come out of their homes all of that was a concern of ours in the city to see what we need to be better prepared,” said Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello.

Mayor Coviello said the meeting that took place on Tuesday was extremely beneficial, and a major topic being discussed were the health risks associated with the algae. He wanted to know if there was an uptick in hospital visits that related to blue-green algae health complications.

Lee Memorial said they weren’t keeping a specific record related to the algae blooms, but said it would be something they assured the mayor they would be looking into.

Another topic discussed was ways to forecast or predict when a bloom may be coming. The mayor believes being able to determine when the blooms will happen could help combat it before it spreads.

“I think these are forecasting models would help and keep us better prepared if if we have an event like this maybe it has to come to the point where when it’s coming will declare a state of emergency like we would a hurricane,” said Mayor Coviello.

The mayor did state that NOAA says this could be possible, and as we head into the wet season the Mayor is staying hopeful that we will not have a repeat of last summer.

Friday’s meeting at the Conservancy of SWFL with Congressman Rooney began at Noon and lasted one hour.


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