Southwest Florida city works to improve water quality

Reporter: Claire Galt Writer: Jasmine Singletary
Published: Updated:
water lillies
Water Lillies in the Jordan Marsh. (CREDIT: WINK News)

The city of Sanibel is working to improve water quality at the Jordan Marsh.

Sanibel partnered with the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation to plant 900 lilies in the Jordan marsh.

water lillies

The lilies remove nutrients from the water that’s pumped through them.

But scientists disagree about whether or not this method works.

These water lilies are more than just a decoration. They help to remove harmful nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen from the Sanibel slough.

Rooted in the water at the Jordan Marsh and the flowers are hard at work.

Mark Thompson, at the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation said, “that’s kind of what was happening in the Sanibel slough (Sanibel river) which can cause fish kills, and it kind of causes the Sanibel Slough to lose its vegetation and just become clogged with algae.”

Thompson has overseen the project since 2019. He said the water lilies are a new addition.

Dr. Barry Rosen, at FGCU said, “Marshes have the ability to filter nutrients, plants that are in there, but not just the plants. But the algae, the periphyton that live on those plants are very good at absorbing nutrients.”

The marsh initially did a great job removing toxic nutrients only to see the efficiency drop due to a lack of vegetation.

That’s why they added the flowers.

water lillies

“Water lilies they are they can withstand deeper water, they can grow in deeper water, their roots are connected to the bottom but you know, they can grow up through you know, four or five, six feet of water,” Thompson said.

Thompson said they’ll know by October if the lilies have helped the marsh again remove large amounts of toxic nutrients from the water.

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