Restoration of Caloosahatchee River Topic of Today’s Workshop

May 20, 2014

 

Today the Department of Environmental Protection conducted a public workshop to discuss restoration goals for 12 tributaries that drain into the Caloosahatchee River. These restoration goals define the amount of identified pollutants that may be present for the water bodies to be considered healthy; the restoration goals are referred to as total maximum daily loads, or TMDLs.

“Nutrient pollution is one of the most formidable issues facing water-quality restoration,” said Tom Frick, director of the Division of Environmental Assessment and Restoration. “Identifying definitive water-quality targets for nutrient pollutants is a crucial step in ensuring healthy conditions for Florida’s waters.”

At the meeting, DEP presented information and engaged stakeholders about the Caloosahatchee tributaries’ nutrient loads and provided updates from the last workshop. The department also presented information concerning water-quality model simulation, calibration efforts and the overall approach. The model is used to develop the restoration target and scientifically account for the watershed’s history, hydrology, chemistry and a variety of other factors.

The Caloosahatchee River was originally a shallow, meandering river, but over the past 120 years the water body has experienced extensive modifications in the interest of navigation, flood control and development. As a result, heavy rainfall can bring large influxes of stormwater runoff into the basin, and releases from Lake Okeechobee also produce large influxes of freshwater. These accelerated and sizable events significantly affect water quality in the estuary.

To date the department has adopted 355 scientifically based restoration goals in cooperation with stakeholder and public input. Another 42 restoration goals are under development, including TMDLs for the King’s Bay, Weeki Wachee and Volusia Blue spring systems. These restoration goals are the foundation for DEP’s long-term, comprehensive restoration plans that reduce pollutants, meet established TMDLs and restore Florida’s water bodies.

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