On August 22, 2019, the City of Marco Island received official notice from Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection stating that the waters in and around Marco Island have been placed on the State’s Verified List of Impaired Waters. This official designation not only declares to the world what has been obvious to longtime local residents and fishermen—the continuing decline of the quality and productivity of Marco Island’s waters—it sets in motion legal requirements that can impact our stormwater management, permitting processes, building costs and finances.
Marco Island could have avoided this designation entirely, or at least be well on the road to restoring our waterways. In 2015, as a member of the Waterways Advisory Committee, I warned the City Council of the potential for the impaired waters designation and wrote “a properly staffed and budgeted comprehensive management plan for Marco Island Waterways is absolutely essential.” Marco Island’s City Council ignored the warning, dismissed my recommendation and did not initiate preparation for a plan until our waters qualified to be placed on Florida’s verified list of impaired waters.
Among the City Council hopefuls for the upcoming election, I am the only candidate with the background and experience to lead the effort to restore and protect our waterways. I am a former chemical engineer and now a practicing attorney. My advocacy for Florida waters dates to 1999 as a member of an established and effective water advocacy group in Central Florida, Friends of Wekiva River. I served on its board, undertook pro bono environmental litigation on its behalf and served as president of the organization for two years. On April 27, 2000, I testified before the U.S. Senate in a successful bid to have the Wekiva River become designated with the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System, one of only two rivers in Florida to attain this designation. For 6 years, I was a member of Marco Island’s Waterways Advisory Committee and served as Its chairman in 2017, and despite a less than receptive City Council overall, I made substantial contributions to our waterways during my time on the committee.
While I am pleased that other candidates are expressing an interest in our water quality, making it part of their platform or even trying to suggest the way forward, I am the only candidate with the background, experience and proven resolve to take the leadership role what will hopefully be a sustained effort by City Council to restore and protect our waterways.