We've suspected this all along. Through independent scientific research, corroborative evidence demonstrates that excess freshwater discharges laden with nutrients act as a catalyst for the proliferation, frequency and duration of red drift algae and red tide in our back bays and near-shore water.
Ray Judah
Lee County Commissioner
District 3
News Archive

American Rivers, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., has listed the Caloosahatchee River as America's #7 most endangered river for 2006. The annual America's Most Endangered Rivers report released on April 19, 2006, highlights 10 rivers facing a major turning point in the coming year, where action by citizens can make a huge difference for both community well-being and river health.

"The Caloosahatchee is the lifeblood of all of Southwest Florida," said Mary Rawl of the Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association. "The crisis point is right now, and we cannot continue to let the river be a disposal conduit of last resort for Central and South Florida."

American Rivers and its partners on the Caloosahatchee, the Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association and the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. called on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACOE) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) to develop and implement a proactive water quality plan that includes specific pollution reduction targets aimed at the source of the pollution for the Caloosahatchee River.

Each year, American Rivers solicits nominations from thousands of river groups, environmental organizations, outdoor clubs, local governments, and taxpayer watchdogs for the America's Most Endangered Rivers report. The report highlights the rivers facing the most uncertain futures rather than those suffering from the worst chronic problems. The report presents alternatives to proposals that would damage rivers, identifies those who make the crucial decisions, and points out opportunities for the public to take action on behalf of each listed river.

The report calls on the USACOE to ensure that water discharges from Lake Okeechobee are managed to dramatically reduce the devastating impacts to the Caloosahatchee River as they finalize a new discharge schedule by January 2007. At the same time, it calls for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that any new water management plan complies strictly with the Endangered Species Act, while the USACOE and SFWMD develop and implement a water quality plan that includes specific pollution reduction targets that address pollution flowing into Lake Okeechobee, as well as that flowing out of the lake into the Caloosahatchee River.

"We have reached a pivotal time in the business of water management for Lake Okeechobee," said Erick Lindblad of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. "The system of structures and the policies that guide their use can no longer provide for the protection of the environment so crucial to the economy of Central and South Florida."

Despite the challenges highlighted by the report, Andrew McElwaine, President and CEO of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, sounded a positive note. "The problems of the Caloosahatchee River can be solved if federal, state, and local regulators work together to obtain more surficial storage, treat more water, and time releases to mimic natural water flow."

For a complete copy of the America's Most Endangered Rivers report, click here

Stories From Your Neighbors

One way to truly understand the impact that freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee are having on Lee County is to hear your neighbors’ experiences. Those who live on or near the Caloosahatchee River are really seeing the effects first-hand. Here are their stories.

Read Local Stories

Tell Us Your Story

To tell us your tale, email us at mywaterstory@leegov.com. And thanks for taking time to help us better understand the scope of what’s happening to us all.

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Related Links

South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Task Force:

South Florida Water Management District:

More Links


Phosphorus [P]:
An element or nutrient required for energy production in living organisms; distributed into the environment mostly as phosphates by agricultural runoff and life cycles; frequently the limiting factor for growth of microbes and plants.

Blue-Green Algae:
A type of algae natural to our area that blooms in the climatic and nutrient conditions it finds favorable.

Go to the Glossary