We Don’t Have to Accept Poor Water Quality by Adopting Naples Standards
A recent guest editorial asked whether Marco Island is ‘Piggybacking” on Rookery Bay Water Quality Standards, implying that the Nutrient Criterion for Marco Island was in error and should be based instead on the higher nutrient levels for Naples Bay which are almost twice as high as Marco island.
The premise is that we should accept the higher criterion and lower water quality that Naples has as being acceptable for Marco Island because urbanization and densely populated areas should accept poorer water quality as a natural result of building out our Island. I disagree.
The author fails to note that the Turrell Hall report he cited contains several possible sources of pollution. It goes on to cite many potential means to reduce nitrogen loading into Marco Island waters, many of which are considered “Best Management Practices” (BMP’s) and have been implemented in many Florida cities and counties and elsewhere in the country, almost none of which have been implemented here. The Waterways Advisory Committee submitted a “Water Quality Initiative” a year ago incorporating the Turrell Hall recommendations and other BMP’s. The City has deferred considering any of the possible BMP’s, many of which could have been evaluated or implemented, until the receipt of a more detailed report by Environment Research and Design, commissioned over a year ago with no updates delivered to date. It took the city 5 years to implement monthly water testing. This very newspaper carried another Guest Editorial in 2013 from Marco Island’s Environmental Specialist calling on the City to protect and preserve our canals by “Care & Conservation.”
Why should we just accept poorer water quality simply by accepting worse standards when science tells us there are many things we can do to help mitigate the damage caused by urbanization? Ask anyone who has lived on Marco for over 5 years. The seagrass is gone, the sediment and nutrient loading is worse, the water has higher turbidity, less clarity and less fish and other sea life are disappearing. Benthic algal blooms occur regularly each season.
While it is true that some of our key indicators have improved over the past three months, we don’t know yet if it’s temporary or a positive trend that will continue. I for one would like to see Marco’s pristine waters return to the greatest extent possible and take every positive measure now to help restore the water quality of our canals and surrounding waterways and protect the environment not only for ourselves, but also for our children and grandchildren and for future generations. If anything, we need tighter standards and more aggressive action, not less
Marco Island, Florida