The end nearly here for fight over Chiquita Lock’s removal

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Chiquita Lock in Cape Harbour. (Credit: WINK News)
Chiquita Lock in Cape Harbour. (Credit: WINK News)

Should the Chiquita Lock stay or go? It’s been a topic of discussion for decades and a legal battle for years, but now a judge has ruled that it can go, and Cape Coral can remove it.

Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk’s ruling Monday is welcome news to boaters. The lock is a major point of contention for the thousands of boaters in Cape Coral.

On a busy day, you may have to wait hours in a long line in the water to move past the lock. The delays present a major hassle if you want to get somewhere on the water.

The Lock is located in Cape Harbour. It provides Gulf access through the river from Camelot Canal and Southwest Spreader Waterway into the Intercoastal. It is located about three miles north of the Sanibel Causeway by water.

Chiquita Lock

On the other hand, environmentalists believe removing the lock will further contaminate the Caloosahatchee.

The lock was designed to prevent runoff from Cape Coral canals from entering the Caloosahatchee.

Too many nutrients in the water can help fuel blue-green algae, and some experts believe the nutrients exacerbate red tide.

The recommended order concluded, “Applying the standards of reasonable assurance to the Findings of Fact in this case, it is concluded that the ERP [Environmental Resource Permit] meets the applicable standards in section 373.414 and rule 62-330.302.”

Chiquita Lock
Boat in Chiquita Lock. CREDIT: WINK News

The Recommendation stated, “Based on the foregoing Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law, it is RECOMMENDED that the Department of Environmental Protection enter a final order: (1) dismissing Daniel Carney as a Petitioner in this case; and (2) issuing Environmental Resource Permit No. 244816-006 to the City of Cape Coral.”

This ruling marked “the conclusion of the Final Administrative Hearing pertaining to the Petitioners’ challenge surrounding the issuance of the ERP to the City, which concluded on December 20, 2023, after a multi-week evidentiary hearing.”

As for when the Chiquita Lock will be removed, the City sent WINK News a statement. It reads in part, that Cape Coral “is presently evaluating critical next steps surrounding this matter. As part of the evaluation process, the City is exploring all potential option(s) for the expeditious removal of the Chiquita Boat Lock. The City remains committed to ensuring that all necessary steps are taken to address any adverse environmental concerns or impacts while also meeting the needs of the community.

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