Virtual water quality summit to address SWFL algae issues Monday

Reporter: Nicole Lauren Writer: Joey Pellegrino
Published: Updated:
Drone image of an algae-filled SWFL waterway. Credit: WINK News

A group of water experts is taking its concerns about the state of Southwest Florida’s waterways to lawmakers Monday in the SWFL Virtual Water Summit hosted by the Naples Daily News and The News-Press. Southwest’s Florida’s economy depends on our water quality, and the experts want to avoid a lot of algae dirtying our waters.

From Fort Myers Beach down to Naples, there is a mix of medium to high amounts of algae, some medium amounts in Charlotte Harbor and low amounts in Pine Island Sound.

A big focus of Monday’s water summit is education. Attendees are going to be talking about how they feel coming out of this legislative session and where we are headed with our water quality.

With rainy season approaching, paired with the blue-green algae Lake O has already seen, Calusa Waterkeeper John Cassani, who will speak at the summit, says the outlook for this summer is grim.

“It is not a good outlook,” Cassani said. “You know, June 1 is hurricane season. That’s just a few weeks away. We are really, really concerned, because the lake, Lake Okeechobee, has already had up to 300 square miles of cyanobacteria. It’s almost as bad as it was in 2018; at this time, it might even be worse.”

Cassani says he is disappointed with how this past legislative session went, and that will be a big point of discussion Monday. He says the educational aspect of these summits is helpful, but he added that, in order to see any real change, we need to have more meetings like this.

“We need to have more,” Cassani said. “The people that live in these communities where water is so important, this is an easy opportunity for them to attend and really kind of get another perspective on what’s going on.”

Others speakers at the summit will include Congressman Byron Donalds and Captains for Clean Water. The SWFL Virtual Water Summit is being held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. and can be watched via the Naples Daily News and The News-Press Facebook pages.

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