According to a recent consultant’s report, Marco Island’s waterways are in jeopardy and will likely be considered impaired next year by state standards (Florida Department of Environmental Agency). This report is based on the continued non-complaint high nitrogen levels.
At the recent meeting of the Waterways Advisory Committee, Tim Hall of Turrell, Hall and Associates, Inc. (marine and environmental consultants) presented a summary of data collected from Marco Island’s waterways between February 2017 and February 2018, and to which degree the waters of Marco Island are in compliance with State standards. According to the report, “nitrogen levels measured during the 2017 calendar year were over the allowed limits for most of the sampling stations showing that organic nitrogen levels (TKN) have drastically increased. The increased levels noted in 2016 have continued to rise over the past year. While some of the increases could be associated with heavy rainfalls both in 2016 and Hurricane Irma in 2017, the levels have stayed high and the results suggest that nitrogen concentrations are not in compliance with State’s numerical nutrient criteria and could be considered impaired if nitrogen levels remain elevated.”
According to the Turrell, Hall report, “based on the past three years’ data, the Marco Island waterways appear to be degrading in terms of nitrogen concentrations and are well above the State threshold and waters around the city could be considered IMPAIRED if the trend continues over the next year.”
With almost 100 miles of canals in Marco Island and about 6,000 waterfront properties that provide boating, fishing and recreation access for Marco Island property owners, we are all stakeholders (think property values) in making sure our waterways are healthy and safe.
What are our options? The degraded waterways did not happen overnight and it will take years to turn things around. Being proactive now can prevent our waterways from being impaired.
Consider the following options:
- City of Marco Island to increase water testing from quarterly to monthly and use data to take action if needed.
- City to enforce Fertilizer Ordinance 16-02.
- City to impose a moratorium on fertilizer application for the next six months.
- City to make sure all commercial lawn maintenance service providers are properly trained and licensed by the State to apply fertilizer (ask to see their license).
- City to enforce Storm Water Control Ordinance 18-07.
- Encourage waterfront properties to install Ocean Habitats Mini Reefs.
- Encourage homeowners to plant Florida-friendly, drought resistant, fertilizer-free vegetation close to water bodies.
- Require commercial lawn maintenance services to catch and properly dispose of grass clippings, especially in those swales that have drain inlets.