As a result of a 4-3 No vote at the January 9, 2023 meeting, Marco City Council refused to hear a presentation on how to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in the City’s reuse water or entertain a recommendation for a cost and feasibility study to analyze improving sewer treatment to Advanced Water Treatment (AWT) or better standards. Leading the charge was Councilor Grifoni, denying that there was any relationship between the extremely poor water quality in our canals and the excess nutrients found in the reuse irrigation water the City sells to the golf courses, hotels and condominium and sprays on Collier Boulevard landscaping. Even Jeff Poteet, head of the Water and Sewer Department appeared taken aback by Grifoni’s comments and surprised that Chairman Folley didn’t see the worth (cost/benefit analysis) of pursuing the study. Councilors Brechnitz and Irwin also voted NO.

Though it is true the nutrient concentrations from canal testing are currently below state identified “impairment” levels, it's only because the increased algae in the canals is consuming the nutrients at such at rapid rate that there are simply fewer nutrients left in the canals’ waters, yet the canals are pea soup green with almost no sea life or clarity. Even if you don’t believe there is a direct connection between reuse and our eutrophic canals, there is no denying that excess concentration of nitrogen and phosphorus in reuse irrigation is bad for the environment. Look at the EPA’s website. Science identified the problem 50 years ago. New sewer treatment plants are being built to improve AWT standards, for example, in the Florida Keys where water quality appears to matter more.

Marco Island has yet again chosen to stick its head in the sand and refuse to acknowledge the possibility it is polluting our waters beyond recovery and doing what is environmentally sound for its citizens and the future of our Island. They spent more time discussing pickle ball courts.

Extremely disappointing that this is how our new Council is starting out 2023.


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