• More than 10-thousand acres of seagrasses
  • Fish, Oysters, Clams, Shrimp, Crabs
  • The J.N. 'Ding' Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Recreational fishing industry
  • Commercial fishing industry
  • The entire estuary system
  • Southwest Florida's economic future
Please Click Here to receive important City of Sanibel updates.

Sanibel Mayor and City Council Meet Governor in Fort Myers; Governor Announces $90 million project to Increase Lake O Flows South; Senator Negron Announces Four Action Items in Response to Senate Select Committee

Today Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and members of the Sanibel City Council met with Florida Governor Rick Scott in Fort Myers Florida. The purpose of the Governor's visit was to announce $90 million in funding towards a project to improve water flows south from Lake Okeechobee and reduce flows into our estuary and the Caloosahatchee River. The project, a 2.5 mile bridge on Tamiami Trail, will replace the existing roadway which has blocked flow to the south since constructed in 1928. For years this project has been planned but never funded or implemented. Additionally the Governor spent time hearing from our local officials on the need to continue restoring the historic flow to the south and observing our current water conditions firsthand.

"Governor Scott's response to this economic and environmental crisis has been swift. We should not squander this opportunity to all work together: east coast and west coast; inland agricultural interests and beaches communities, Federal, State and local officials, environmentalist & business owners, to move plans long on the drawing boards into realityRuane stated following the Governor's visit to our area.

In addition to the Governor's announcement, State Senator Negron has announced four action items in follow-up to the Senate Select Committee public hearing. To read a copy of the Action Plans, all consistent with the City of Sanibel's priorities, Please Click Here

For a copy of the City of Sanibel's short and long-term priorities for addressing the economic and environmental crisis resulting from the Lake Okeechobee releases. Please Click Here..

Shown above, Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and State Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto greeting Governor Scott to the banks of the Caloosahatchee River this morning.

Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District officials to discuss freshwater releases into the Caloosahatchee River at town hall meeting.

FORT MYERS, Fla. (Aug. 27, 2013)  Colonel Alan M. Dodd, district commander for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Ernie Barnett, interim executive director of the South Florida Water Management District, will discuss the ongoing freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee basin into the Caloosahatchee River at a special town hall meeting hosted by Lee County and the City of Sanibel.

The town hall is free and open to the public and takes place Thursday, Sept. 5 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lee County Emergency Operations Center, 2675 Ortiz Ave. in Fort Myers. No RSVP is required.

Following informational presentations from both organizations regarding the freshwater releases and management of Lake Okeechobee and the Central and Southern Flood Control System, members of the public may ask questions or provide comments.

Lee County Commissioner Tammy Hall and Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane will serve as facilitators for the discussion.

For more information, contact Lee County Natural Resources at 239-533-8109 or the City of Sanibel at 239-472-3700.

Contact: Tina Matte, Gravina, Smith, Matte & Arnold Marketing and Public Relations,239-275-5758, Click Here to send an email

Today in Stuart, Florida, Mayor Kevin Ruane addressed the Florida Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin regarding the detrimental impacts of freshwater releases from Lake O on the estuaries and beaches of Sanibel Island.

Today in Stuart, Florida, Mayor Kevin Ruane addressed the Florida Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin regarding the detrimental impacts of freshwater releases from Lake O on the estuaries and beaches of Sanibel Island. The Mayor also met and spoke with several key leaders who attended the hearing to share the City's concerns and recommendations.

The Senate Committee is scheduled to provide a report with recommendations to Senate President Don Gaetz by November 4.

Click here to see photos from the hearing.

Live Streaming Available for August 22 Senate Select Committee Hearing on Lake Okeechobee Freshwater Releases

Members of the public can watch the Florida Senate Select Committee hearing on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin in Stuart, Fla., on Thursday, Aug. 22 beginning at 1 p.m. via live streaming available at The Florida Channel To Visit The Florida Channel, Click Here

The Senate Select Committee is comprised of eight members of the Florida Senate chosen by President Don Gaetz, including Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto of Southwest Florida. The hearing is scheduled from 1 to 9 p.m. and the agenda is available To View The Agenda, Click Here

Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane will testify during the hearing regarding the significant, detrimental and economic impacts of the high flow regulatory discharges on Sanibel Island and the coastal waters of Lee County; the urgent need for the U.S. Army Corps and South Florida Water Management District to consider all short- and long-term storage options; the necessity of securing federal funding for the C-43 West Basin Reservoir Project and other long-term solutions; and the importance of immediate ecological monitoring to determine the full impacts on the Caloosahatchee estuary.

"It's important for the Senate committee members to understand the significant impacts of these freshwater releases on our island, our estuaries and our residents' way of life," said Mayor Ruane."My testimony will include information we shared earlier this week with officials in Tallahassee and today at the Special Meeting of the City Council."

For more information about the Senate committee, Visit www.flsenate.gov, Click Here

Report Being Presented by Sanibel Mayor & Director of Natural Resources at this Morning's Special City Council Meeting

At a specially convened meeting of the Sanibel City Council at 9:00am this morning, Wednesday, August 21, Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and Director of Natural Resources are currently presenting a report to the Community on the impacts of the Lake Okeechobee releases. The report covers the Caloosahatchee conditions and the ecological impacts; the economic impacts the City approaches and partnerships, the City's State and Federal legislature priorities as well as the City's actions to date.

Click here to view this mornings presentation

Today Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and Director of Natural Resources, James Evans are in the State Capitol, Tallahassee, educating the Executive and Legislative Branches of our State government as to the economic impacts of the releases of Lake Okeechobee on Sanibel and our region.

Shown above on the left is Stephen Pepper Uchino, Staff Director for the Florida Senate and on the right Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane interacting this afternoon. On Thursday, August 22nd Sanibel will be represented by Mayor Ruane when he testifies in Stuart, Florida before the Senate Select Committee on Lake Okeechobee Releases.

Click here to see photo of meeting.

Today the City of Sanibel is providing the following information to the community as an update of the issues related to the Lake Okeechobee releases

The City of Sanibel's State and Federal Priorities for Solutions to the Lake Okeechobee Releases, click here.

The City of Sanibel's Legislative Briefing Packet, click here.

Agenda for Special Sanibel City Council Meeting of 9 am Wednesday, August 21, 2013 , click here.

Mayor Ruane to testify Before Senate Select Committee on Lake Okeechobee Basin, click here.

Mayor Ruane and Sanibel City Council Released Their Letters to Senators Nelson and Rubio and Congressman Radel Regarding Funding for Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Reservoir.

Today Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and the Sanibel City Council released their letters to Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio and Congressman Trey Radel regarding the 2013 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) and funding for the Caloosahatchee River (C-43) West Basin Storage Reservoir Project. The C-43 Reservoir Project will add 170,000 acre-feet of critical water storage within the Caloosahatchee Basin. The new storage would help to reduce the volume of polluted water delivered to the Caloosahatchee estuary during rainy season.

To access the letter, click here.

You may contact the Senator's and Congressman by clicking here.

Mayor Ruane and Sanibel City Council Released Their Letter to South Florida Water Management District Regarding the Caloosahatchee High Flow Discharges and the Need For Additional Water Storage

Mayor Ruane and Sanibel City Council Released Their Letter to South Florida Water Management District Regarding the Caloosahatchee High Flow Discharges and the Need For Additional Water Storage

Today Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and the Sanibel City Council released their letter to the South Florida Water Management District regarding the immediate need to develop all short-term and long-term storage systems for the Kissimmee Chain of Lakes, increase disbursed water storage throughout the systems and maximize all storage opportunities and to hold more water during times of emergency.

To access the letter, click here.

The South Florida Water Management Governing Board Members may be contacted by clicking here..

Mayor Ruane and Sanibel City Council Released Their Letter to Senator Benacquisto requesting to Expand the Scope of the Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin to Include the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary

Today Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane and the Sanibel City Council released their letter to Senator Benacquisto to voice concern about the critical need that the scope of the Senate Select Committee on Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee also include the Caloosahatchee River.

To access the letter, click here.

Senator Benacquisto and Committee members may be contacted by clicking here..

Mayor Ruane & Sanibel

Mayor Ruane & Sanibel City Council Release Letter to Lee County Commissioners  Opposing Pending Amendments to Permit

Personal Watercraft (Jet Skis) Tours in the Back



Today Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane  and City Council released their letter to the Lee County Board of

Commissioners opposing amending  the Lee County Ordinances to allow personal watercraft (Jet Ski) tours

of the Back Bay area.   This issue is

currently pending before by the Lee

County Commissioners and will be

considered next at their Management

& Planning Meeting at 1:30 pm on

Tuesday, May 6, 2013.


Please click here to access the letter.


Our County Commissioners can be contacted at:


Commissioner John Manning             dist1@leegov.com        (239) 533-2224

Chair Cecil L Pendergrass                 dist2@leegov.com        (239) 533-2227

Vice Chair Larry Kiker                      dist3@leegov.com        (239) 533-2223

Commissioner Tammy Hall                dist4@leegov.com        (239) 533-2226

Commissioner Frank Mann                 dist5@leegov.com        (239) 533-2225

Sanibel River Water Quality Report - January 2002 through December 2010

Presented to Sanibel City Council - May 3rd, 2011

Report prepared by: James Evans, Biologist, City of Sanibel.

This report provides an update on the status and trends of water quality in the Sanibel River. The period of record for this report is January 2002 through December 2010. This report includes only those stations located within the Sanibel River (San-WQ-3 through San-WQ-8) and does not include the City's estuarine monitoring sites located within Clam Bayou, Dinkins Bayou and Blind Pass (Fig. 1). All data were collected either by Natural Resource Department staff or by the City's contractor, Johnson Engineering.

A seasonal Kendall trend test was used to evaluate trends in the data. Station median values for each parameter were compared to the 'typical' Florida waterbody values published by Joe Hand (FDEP 2008) to evaluate their status relative to other Florida waterbodies (Table 1). Percentile distributions were grouped in the following categories: 10-30 = below average, 31-69 = average, 70-90 = above average (Duffey et al. 2007).

Overall, water quality within the Sanibel River remains relatively poor compared to other Florida Freshwater streams. Median nutrient concentrations for ammonia nitrogen, total Kjeldahl nitrogen, total nitrogen, and chlorophyll-a, a proxy for phytoplankton, were above average compared to other Florida freshwater streams. Inorganic nitrogen in the form of nitrate was relatively low and exhibited decreasing trends at all stations. Total phosphorus and ortho phosphorus were also relatively low, with total phosphorus exhibiting decreasing trends at some stations and ortho phosphorus exhibiting slight increasing trends at all stations.

Below is a brief summary of the status and trends results.

Salinity values were generally higher at the stations located near the water quality structures, with mean salinities of 5.06 psu at San-WQ-5 and mean salinities of 2.99 psu at San-WQ-8 (Fig. 1). Salinity values were above average compared to other Florida freshwater streams, with all stations ranking within the 80th percentile. This suggests that the Sanibel River is not a true freshwater body; rather it is estuarine in nature and criteria developed for freshwater streams may not be directly comparable. Salinity exhibited an increasing trend at stations San-WQ-3, 4, and 5, with salinities increasing, on average, 0.22 psu per year.

Dissolved oxygen (DO) values were relatively low compared to other Florida freshwater streams, with all stations ranking within the 10th percentile. Mean DO values ranged between 2.41-4.32 mg/l, with lower values associated with San-WQ-3 and San-WQ-6 (Tables 2 and 5). Stations San-WQ-6, 7 and 8 exhibited an increasing trend, with DO increasing 0.23 mg/l per year. Values > 4 mg/l are desired to maintain a healthy and well-balanced assemblage of fish and wildlife.

Ammonia nitrogen was relatively consistent among stations, with mean values varying less than 0.09 mg/l. Ammonia concentrations were relatively high at all stations, with median values at all stations ranking within the 90th percentile compared to other Florida freshwater streams. San-WQ-4 had the highest median values at 0.15 mg/l. Ammonia exhibited an increasing trend at station San-WQ-3, with ammonia increasing at 0.0054 mg/l per year.

Nitrate and nitrite nitrogen concentrations were relatively low compared to other Florida freshwater streams, with nitrate and nitrite at all stations ranking within the 10th percentile. Nitrate nitrogen also exhibited decreasing trends at all stations, with concentrations decreasing on average 0.003 mg/l per year.

Total Kjeldahl nitrogen (TKN) was relatively high at all stations, with median concentrations ranking within the 80th and 90th percentile compared to other Florida freshwater streams. Mean concentrations were higher at stations San-WQ-4 and 7 and lowest at stations San-WQ-3, 5, and 8. TKN exhibited increasing trends at all stations, with TKN increasing on average 0.112 mg/l per year.

Total nitrogen (TN) was relatively high, with all of the stations ranking between the 60th and 80th percentiles compared to other Florida freshwater streams. Mean concentrations were higher at stations San-WQ-4 and 7 and lowest at stations San-WQ-3, 5, and 8. Total nitrogen exhibited increasing trends at all stations, with TN increasing on average 0.112 mg/l per year. Concentrations and trends paralleled those of total Kjeldahl nitrogen suggesting that a majority of the TN pool in the Sanibel River is made up of organic nitrogen.

Ortho phosphorus was relatively low, with all stations "below average" and ranking between the 10th and 20th percentiles. Ortho phosphorus concentrations were generally higher at the eastern stations with stations San-WQ-7 and 8 having the highest mean values. All stations exhibited increasing trends, with concentrations increasing on average 0.003 mg/l per year.

Total phosphorus concentrations were relatively low and were "below average" or "average" for all stations, except for San-WQ-7. Stations San-WQ-3 and 5 had the lowest concentrations; while San-WQ-7 and 8 had the highest concentrations. Total phosphorus exhibited decreasing trends at stations San-WQ-7 and 8, with concentrations decreasing 0.007 mg/l per year.

Chlorophyll-a is a measure of primary productivity and can be used as a proxy for phytoplankton (microalgae). Chlorophyll-a was "above average" at all stations. Mean chlorophyll-a concentrations were greatest at the eastern stations, with San-WQ-7 and 8 having the highest values. All stations exhibited increasing trends, with concentrations increasing on average 2.89 mg/m3 per year. Increases in chlorophyll-a can result from increased nutrient inputs, increased light available to phytoplankton, and/or changes in the residence time. Reductions in inorganic nitrogen (nitrate) and total phosphorus may be the result of uptake by phytoplankton within the river.

**NOTE** To view the full report and associated maps, graphs and charts, please click on the link "Water Testing Info" and scroll to the bottom of the page to find the .pdf file titled, "Update on Sanibel River Water Quality - Presented to City Council 05-03-11."

To view the Golf Course Nutrient and Lake Management Compliance Report, please click on the link "Water Testing Info" and scroll to the bottom of the page to find the .pdf titled, "Golf Course Nutrient and Lake Management Compliance - Presented to City Council 5-3-11"

Inequities between Different Stakeholders within the SFWMD Service Area

Document prepared by: James Evans, City of Sanibel Rae Ann Wessel, SCCF July 20, 2010

The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Service Area covers 16 counties from Orlando to the Florida Keys. The total land area managed by the District includes 18,000 mi2. The Lower West Coast Service Area includes approximately 2,216 mi2 and includes the Caloosahatchee and Estero Bay watersheds.

The Lower West Coast Service area experiences a number of inequities when compared to other regions of the SFWMD. These inequities include high regulatory releases to the Caloosahatchee from Lake Okeechobee, annual violations of the Caloosahatchee Minimum Flows and Levels rule (MFL), uneven economic investment in storage projects and infrastructure favoring east coast and southern interests, and reduced research and monitoring efforts in the Caloosahatchee Estuary as compared to other parts of the District's service area. The overall inequities to the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary are the result of decisions made by SFWMD staff and the Governing Board that favor agricultural and urban water supply interests over natural resource needs and protection. The deep rooted operational bias has resulted in years of impacts to the Caloosahatchee while municipal and agricultural interests have enjoyed near-perfect year-round hydrological conditions.

While the Army Corps of Engineers is responsible for operating the lake according to the Lake Okeechobee Release Schedule (LORS) 2008, this document focuses on the inequities resulting from management decisions made by the SFWMD. Below is a list of the inequities in the management of water for the Lower West Coast Service area as compared with other regions within the SFWMD service area.

There is a fundamental policy bias used by the District that favors permitted water users at the expense of natural systems. For years water release inequities pitted one natural system against another i.e. Lake O vs. estuaries or east coast vs. west coast estuaries. In more recent years we have strived, and succeeded, in working together with various stakeholders to focus the issue on the policy of managing water for the natural system and permitted water consumers. The current reevaluation of the adaptive protocol process has brought this policy issue into focus and we need to continue to push for equity in water supply for natural systems.

Following is an outline of issues that create inequities for the Caloosahatchee followed by brief discussion of each issue.

1. High Flows a. Caloosahatchee Estuary receives the largest flows of excess water b. Rate of Lake O water level rise and recession c. Water management favors permitted users at the expense of natural systems d. Agricultural backpumping for flood control vs ag water supply e. Legal constraints directing water discharges f. Modified Water Delivery - Tamiami Trail g. Conveyance and capacity limitations/flexibility

2. Low Flows a. Competition for water resources b. Consumptive Use permitting c. Caloosahatchee Minimum Flow and Levels (MFL) d. Caloosahatchee Recovery Plan e. Backflowing Caloosahatchee basin water into Lake O f. Water reservation for the Caloosahatchee g. Endangered Species Issues

3. Reduced Investment in infrastructure of western basin vs. others

4. Reduced investment in services provided to the Caloosahatchee

High Flows The Caloosahatchee receives a disproportionately large share of regulatory discharges of excess water from Lake Okeechobee, higher than any other part of the system.

1.) High water levels in Lake Okeechobee are managed for the public safety of the communities around the lake and for the health of the lake. Although this is the responsibility of the Army Corps of Engineers, the District provides guidance on how to manage lake levels for the health of the lake. Once the dike was constructed around the lake in the 1930s, all of the flow that once went south was redirected to the two coasts. With the dike in a status of potential imminent failure, water is released to keep the lake below 15.5 ft (<17.25 per LORS 2008). The Caloosahatchee is the larger of the two outlets so it receives up to 70% of unwanted excess water.

2.) Lake levels are managed to ensure that the rate of rise and rate of recession minimize impacts to submerged aquatic vegetation and apple snail populations (snail kite food source) within the lake. To manage for the health of the lake ecosystem, when water levels increase too quickly, water is discharge to the east and west coast estuaries.

3.) Releases from the lake are limited to the south to preserve agricultural operations that are allowed to maintain water levels 18 inches below ground surface even though that results in the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries receiving damaging releases that harm estuarine habitats including seagrasses, oysters, and other fisheries, . This could be addressed by requiring agricultural operations to provide water storage for their own excess water/stormwater instead of shunting the water into natural systems and the publicly funded infrastructure such as the Water Conservation Areas that were designed to take in and treat lake water, not agricultural runoff.

4.) The District allows backpumping into Lake Okeechobee for flood control. While the governing board prohibited agricultural backpumping for water supply in 2008, backpumping for flood control purposes is permitted. This effectively allows agricultural interests in the EAA to pump water off of their fields into the canals adjacent to the communities of Clewiston, South Bay and Belle Glade. When the headwaters in the S-2, S-3 and S-4 canals reach elevations of >10', backpumping is permitted to prevent flooding the communities.

5.) There are several legal impediments to moving water south including water quality constraints, insufficient infrastructure, protected species issues and ongoing litigation with the Miccosukee tribe. 5a.) Water Quality: The Forever Everglades Act requires that water discharged to the Everglades National Park (ENP) contain no more than 10 parts per billion (ppb) of phosphorus. The water conservation areas (WCA) and stormwater treatment areas (STA) were designed to provide water quality treatment for lake water but have limited capacity because agricultural runoff is directed into these publicly funded treatment areas. This limits the treatment capacity and the amount of water that can be moved south. The less capacity available to treat lake water the more polluted water dumped out the estuaries.

5b.) Infrastructure: Tamiami Trail and canal capacity also limits flow south. Tamiami Trail is a dam that prevents flow south. Until it is raised more flow cannot be directed south even with the U.S. Sugar land purchase because it would flood Miccosukee tribal lands. Capacity of the Miami, North New River and Hillsborough canals, that flow out of the lake through the EAA to the lower east coast, have limited capacity due to both impacts to water tables in the EAA but also from urban development in Miami Dade. Water that cannot be accommodated to the south because of these limitations comes out the estuaries.

5c.) Protected species affect water management decisions as well. The lake and surrounding areas are managed for the protection of the endangered snail kite. The Everglades are managed for the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow, water storage systems are precluded from being flooded on occasion because of nesting species such as black skimmers. Although the Caloosahatchee supports two federally endangered species, the smalltooth sawfish and the West Indian Manatee, and the endangered habitat of the small tooth sawfish, there are no protections in place for their protection from high flows.

5d.) Litigation has had an effect on where water is discharged or not discharged resulting in inequitable impacts and lack of true shared adversity. To the south the Miccosukee tribe has sponsored numerous lawsuits that have limited flows south based on water quality and potential flooding amoung others. The USFWS has afforded protection for the Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow that has limited volumes and timing of flows. To the east homeowners are suing the Corps over the impacts from Lake releases.

Low Flows A major inequity is the deep rooted and entrenched policy of the SFWMD that benefits permitted water users during low water conditions (dry season and droughts) at the expense of natural systems. This policy sacrifices the public crop (Seagrass, oysters, shrimp, fish and crabs) by allocating the public water resources for the benefit of private users i.e. municipal water supply and agricultural crops. This is a major policy issue that needs to be resolved.

Competition For Water

1.) Currently there is a great deal of inequity between agricultural and urban water supply and water supply for the environment. Policies and decisions made by SFWMD staff and the Governing Board routinely cut off water for natural systems while permitted users experience no cut back and continue to receive 100% of their demand even when the natural system is experiencing explicit harm. This inequity impacts the Caloosahatchee by reducing beneficial flows needed to protect freshwater grasses and larval fishes that depend on lower salinities in the upper estuary. 2.) Inequity is central to the Consumptive Use Permitting process. These permits are issued to municipalities and agricultural users for 20 years. The permitting standard is that the withdrawals cause no harm. Over the past two years, the Lake Okeechobee Service Area (LOSA), which includes the Caloosahatchee basin, has been in the process of renewing permits for agricultural and municipal users. The SFWMD has been reissuing permits to existing permitees and bringing in users who have never been permitted ("No farmer left behind"). These permits grant water use volumes despite the fact that the District has demonstrated that they do not know the water budget they are permitting from. One indicator of this problem is that the Caloosahatchee MFL has been exceeded in most years, due to a lack of available water. So without a water budget the SFWMD has been permitting users for water without considering the needs o f the natural system first, thereby perpetuating the problem. This has caused harm to the natural system in the Caloosahatchee in direct violation of the existing permitting standard that they withdrawals cause no harm.

3.) The MFL for the Caloosahatchee has been violated numerous times since it was established in 2001. The Caloosahatchee MFL was established to create an appropriate salinity regime in the upper Caloosahatchee estuary. When salinity drops below 10 psu in Ft. Myers for extended periods of time (> 30-days) we see impacts to the freshwater grasses and larval fishes that depend on the low salinity zone in the upper estuary.

4.) The "Recovery Plan" is supposed to identify how the MFL will be met. It is part of the water control plan. The recovery plan for the Caloosahatchee is construction of the C43 reservoir. When the plan was written it was presumed that construction of the reservoir would provide the storage needed to meet the MFL. The Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan published in January, 2009 revealed that the capacity of the C43 reservoir only represents one half of the needed storage. This leaves the "Recovery Plan" as only half a plan but is used by the District to limit storage/ infrastructure needed to resolve flow needs.

5.) During extreme dry seasons and droughts the SFWMD engages in a practice of redirecting or "back-flowing" water from the Caloosahatchee basin into Lake Okeechobee. This is done by shutting the lock at Ortona (S-78), allowing water to build up a head and flow east into the lake. This practice steals Caloosahatchee basin water that would otherwise be available to help meet the river's MFL. This is done primarily to provide for urban and agricultural water supplies in the Lake Okeechobee Service Area (LOSA) and results in direct harm to the Caloosahatchee Estuary by not providing water needed to meet the MFL.

6.) The solutions to these problems are to establish a statutory reservation of water for the Caloosahatchee. A statutory reservation allocates the water needs of the natural system first, before water is permitted away through consumptive use permits. In addition to statutory reservations there are also CERP reservations required for all federal projects funded by the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project (CERP). In contrast to the statutory reservation these are designed to set aside only "new water" for the project i.e. the C-43 reservoir project. In preparation for the construction of the C43 reservoir, the SFWMD has initiated planning for a CERP reservation for the Caloosahatchee. However, that will only provide half of the water needed to meet the environmental needs of the estuary, leaving the natural system short resulting in continued MFL exceedences. Additional water to meet the estuary's needs will need to either come from other water storage projects within the basin or from Lake Okeechobee and can only be assured through a statutory reservation.

7.) Just as with high flow issues, water is managed for protected species at the low end. The same species and same conflicts exist.

8.) During water shortage periods there is also competition for water between natural and constructed systems. Stormwater Treatment Areas (STA), the systems we have created to treat water, need to stay wet so that nutrients are not released. These kinds of conflicts will only increase as more storage areas are brought online, increasing challenges for managing where to put water.

Distribution of Water Storage Projects and Infrastructure

1.) There is a great deal of economic inequity in the SFWMD. Although west coast tax payers pay the same amount, there is less flood control and storage infrastructure investment on the west coast compared to the east coast and south. This limits our ability to store water to reduce the impacts of damaging regulatory releases and to provide environmental releases when water is needed to meet the Caloosahatchee MFL.

Research and Monitoring

1.) Significantly more investment has been put towards research and monitoring efforts in other parts of the District compared to the Caloosahatchee. For example, SFWMD staff is currently monitoring the biological health of oysters and seagrasses in the St. Lucie Estuary during the recent high discharges from the lake. When we requested additional monitoring on the west coast, staff said that they do not have any funding available for additional monitoring.

Potential ways to resolve the inequities include:

1. Establish and publish a process for shared adversity during high flows that incorporates high flow management measrues for the estuaries. This process should identify all options for distributing water and sharing adversity including public lands. It also should address reasons why any region should not share adversity. This could be done through the Adaptive Protocols process. The SFWMD has preferred to focus the discussion and revisions only on low flows.

2. Establish a policy commitment to not cut off water from natural systems until and unless permitted water users are also cut by an equivalent measure.

3. Committ to completing a statutory reservation for the Caloosahahatchee by 2011.

4. Require a water budget for the Caloosahatchee that would first establish the volume of water needed for the natural system off the top and would reevaluate LOSA Consumptive Use permits being reissued against the remaining volume of water available. Revise LOSA consumptive use permits to bring the budget in balance.

5. Enforce water use permit limits during dry seasons and drought.

6. Aggressively pursue and implement distributed storage opportunities within the Caloosahatchee watershed as well as north and south of the lake.

7. Require that property owners in the EAA retain their stormwater (excess water) and provide for their own water supply needs to eliminate backpumping nutrient-rich water into the lake. One of the ways to achieve this would be to incorporate the Recyclable Water Containment Area (RWCA) concept developed by Dr. Ed Hanlon. See link below: http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/document_ss447

8. Revise the Caloosahatchee MFL to incorporate updated flow needs and remove loopholes/language that allow SFWMD to take no action even when significant harm is occurring.

9. Complete the C-43 reservoir and other CERP projects in the Lower West Coast Service area that will have water storage benefits.

10. Increase research and monitoring efforts in the Caloosahatchee River and Estuary for oysters, seagrasses, and fisheries, similar to what has occurred in the St. Lucie Estuary, to provide information on the impacts of high-level regulatory releases.

City of Sanibel Water Quality Improvement Initiatives


1.) We are in the final phase of converting the entire island from septic to central Sewer 2.) Acquisition of environmentally sensitive land on Sanibel totaling over1200 acres, focusing on the Sanibel River Corridor with over 67% of the entire island now preserved as conservation lands totaling over 6,700 acres. 3.) Strict vegetation standards promoting native plants and requiring that 75% of all plants installed by homeowners be native species. Native species require much less water than do exotics and eliminate the need for fertilizers and pesticides to maintain them. 4.) Implementation of the EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) to reduce storm water runoff and increase onsite storm water retention. 5.) Protection of the island's mangroves to improve buffering capacity of the coastline to reduce pollutant runoff into our coastal waters. 6.) Reduction of impervious surface during development to increase storm water retention and aquifer recharge. 7.) Provides educational information on alternatives to using toxic pesticides and fertilizers, which can affect wildlife and water resources 8.) The city is moving to re-use water system to recycle wastewater on-island. 9.) The city actively protects the beach dune system by requiring property owners living on the Gulf of Mexico to minimize trimming impacts within the dune community, increasing the buffering capacity of plants and reducing runoff. 10.) The City holds annual hazardous waste disposal drop-off days to reduce the need for improper disposal of toxic substances. 11.) The city, with its partners SCCF and the US Fish and Wildlife Service, maintain > 1,600 acres of interior freshwater wetlands through a weir system that improves water retention and reduces coastal runoff from the interior portions of the island and maintains the proper hydrology for wetland plant communities and wildlife. 12.) Fertilizer ordinance for residential and commercial landscapes 13.) City Council adopted staff recommendations for island golf courses 14.) Decommissioned the Sanibel Bayous Package Plant 15.) Decommissioned the Sea Oats Package Plant and restored site 16.) Working on Sanibel River WQ Treatment Park for Jordan Marsh 17.) Developing plan to line reuse water pond at the Beachview Golf Course adjacent to the Sanibel River 18.) Working on obtaining funding for Nitrogen removal modifications for the Donax WWTP 19.) Working on grant to remove vegetative debris to export nutrients from the Sanibel River

WQ Monitoring
1.) CHNEP WQ Monitoring Program - San Carlos Bay Stratum 2002-2008 2.) Sanibel Ambient WQ Monitoring Program / NPDE Monitoring - 2002 to present

Reports and other Documents
1.) Sanibel WQ Monitoring Report - 1st year report - July 2003 2.) Coastal Bacteriological Study - Department of Biology, University of North Carolina - February 2007 3.) Charlotte Harbor Environmental Center Report- The Sanibel River and the Impaired Waters Rule: How Stable Nitrogen Isotopes and Phytoplankton Community Analyses Can Indicate Nutrient Sources and Evaluate Nutrient Reduction Efforts - December 2008 4.) Bioavailability and Sources of Nutrients and Linkages to Nuisance Drift Algae Quarterly Reports 1 through 5 - Final Report Due August 2010 5.) San Carlos Bay WQ Monitoring Report 2002-2008 - March 2009 6.) SFWMD - Sanibel WQ Monitoring Report and Recommendations 2002-2008- July 2009 7.) Annual NPDES WQ Monitoring Reports submitted to FDEP from the Sanibel Public Works Department - Ongoing

Comment Letters and Legislation
1.) Florida WQ Classification System and Designated Uses Refinement 2.) Caloosahatchee TMDL 3.) Florida Statewide Stormwater Rule 4.) EPA Numeric Nutrient Criteria 5.) Florida Healthy Beaches Legislation

City Council's letter to FDEP Secretary Sole

February 2, 2010

Hon. Michael W. Sole FDEP Secretary 3900 Commonwealth Boulevard MS 49 Tallahassee, FL 32399

Re: Comments on the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's Revised Draft of Proposed Changes to Florida's Designated Uses and Surface Water Classification System, F.A.C. 62-302.400

Dear Secretary Sole,

The City of Sanibel appreciates the opportunity to comment on the current draft of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection's proposed changes to the Designated Uses and Surface Water Classification System. We would like to thank the Department for soliciting stakeholder input and incorporating many of our previous comments into the latest draft rule. While the recent draft is substantially better than the previous one, we still have a few items that need to be addressed before we can support the proposed rule changes.

Changes to the existing designated uses structure should be made concurrently with the adoption of numeric nutrient criteria for all waterbody classes, except for Class III-Limited which will have site-specific criteria that would be developed through the Use Attainability Analysis (UAA) process. If this is not feasible within FDEP's timeframe; alternatively, additional language could be added to the rule and/or Technical Support Document (TSD) that indicates that the FDEP will use the EPA's numeric nutrient criteria for freshwater bodies and the interim numeric nutrient criteria for estuaries when evaluating use changes during the UAA process.

Appropriate language should be added to the proposed rule and the Technical Support Document (TSD) that specifies how downstream waterbodies will be adequately protected when an upstream waterbody is downgraded to Class III-Limited. Where use changes are granted, the petitioner should be required to conduct water quality monitoring at an appropriate spatial and temporal scale that will demonstrate that downstream waterbodies are adequately protected. All monitoring programs approved as part of a UAA and reclassification should contain a condition that all data must be uploaded to FDEP Storage and Retrieval database (STORET) so that it can be used for all future Impaired Water Rule (IWR) assessments.

The current language in the TSD reads "Potential candidates for Class III-Limited will be generally limited to& wholly artificial waterbodies& and& altered waterbodies that were dredged, filled, or channelized prior to November 28, 1975." The word "generally" is ambiguous and adds a level of uncertainty that we feel could allow waterbodies other than "wholly artificial" or "altered" waterbodies to be downgraded to Class III-Limited and should be struck to avoid confusion and unintended consequences.

Overall, we feel that FDEP is listening to local stakeholders and as a result we are nearing a rule that we can support. With the addition of the above changes, the City of Sanibel would likely be able to support revisions to the rule. We thank you for the opportunity to comment on the proposed rule changes and appreciate your time and attention to this matter.

Mick Denham, Mayor City of Sanibel

City of Sanibel Statement of Position on Regional Water Issues

October 6, 2009

City Council has approved the following document which will be sent to stakeholders and partners in our efforts to improve regional water quality. It is hoped that these partners will effectively promote these important positions so that we can magnify our efforts by speaking with one voice.

I. Support Acquisition U.S. Sugar Lands and adjacent lands south of Lake Okeechobee should be purchased or otherwise acquired in order to restore a continuous southern flow-way to the Everglades and to significantly reduce excessive water releases from the Lake to the rivers and estuaries on both coasts. The City supports the recent changes to the proposed acquisition announced November 12, 2008 by the Governor that reduces overall costs and the burden of handling infrastructure such as sugar mills and rail lines.

II. Retain Essential Lands SFWMD should retain at least 80% of these U.S. Sugar owned lands to be purchased west of the Lake for the purposes of water treatment and storage before discharge into the Caloosahatchee (see attached map): S-4 Basin Lands; Disston Water Control District Lands, instead of swapping or utilizing them for other purposes.

III. Plan Economic Redevelopment The State needs to work with the local communities that may be adversely affected economically by agricultural conversion to develop alternative opportunities and employment in ways that do not add to the nutrient or other pollutant issues in the Lake, connected rivers or the Everglades. Any Inland Ports (at least 6 potential sites are being discussed) or other economic projects must be located in a manner that does not preclude or significantly diminish flow-way designs south of the Lake or themselves result in stormwater pollution or additional blockage of flow from new roads or rail lines. The proposed Inland Port site at Okeelanta on Florida Crystals lands south of the Lake in Palm Beach County (also called the South Bay site) is an example of a location damaging to a flow-way design that should not be carried forward. There is already some momentum for this inappropriate site with the Palm Beach County Commission and the Port of Miami. A preferable site would be current agricultural lands either west or east of the Lake that are closer to the communities affected and not in the path of the flow-way. A good Inland Port site should also not consist of wetlands or important wildlife habitat. An example of such a site is the Hilliard Brothers property in Hendry County.

IV. Support CRWPP Legislative approval and funding is essential and timely for the Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan (CRWPP). This plan includes the C-43 Reservoir with an STA (stormwater treatment area) and other important nutrient reduction projects within the Caloosahatchee Basin. Funding for the C-43 project with an STA needs to continue to be supported at both the Federal and State level.

V. Implement Critical CERP Projects The State and Federal Government must not let the sugar lands acquisition project divert momentum from critical Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Program (CERP) projects, without which the southern flow-way would not function. The Modwaters, Decomp, Northern Everglades and Lake Okeechobee Restoration plans should move forward with an accelerated pace. Conversely, all funding and further action on the Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) projects of CERP should be immediately halted as cost-benefit and environmental issues have rendered this program dysfunctional and unlikely to succeed.

VI. Secure Water Reservation for Caloosahatchee To ensure adequate fresh water inflows during dry periods, the City of Sanibel supports Lee County in its efforts to secure a "water reservation" from the SFWMD for the river and its estuary. This reservation would make it more likely to achieve desired "minimum flows and levels" (MFL's), especially during the dry season, for the health of the river and upper estuary. These flows can be critical for fisheries and upper estuarine aquatic life that require at least some freshwater input. It will also serve to help prevent stratification and stagnation, conditions that can lead to low dissolved oxygen levels and algae blooms.


City Transitions from Education to Enforcement of Fertilizer Ordinance

As the rainy season begins, the City of Sanibel would like to remind all citizens, landscape and pest control professionals that frequent and unpredictable summer downpours increase the opportunities for nutrient run-off to enter our local waters. By not applying nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers, you can be part of the City's on-going effort to minimize local and regional nutrient pollution.

BEGINNING JULY 1ST, FERTILIZERS CONTAINING NITROGEN AND/OR PHOSPHORUS MAY NOT BE APPLIED TO LAWNS OR LANDSCAPE PLANTS. Applications of these nutrients, where needed, may resume on October 1 in accordance with the City's fertilizer regulations adopted by City Council in 2007.

Over the last six months, the City has worked diligently to educate its citizens, landscape and pest control professionals, and staff about the harmful effects of improper fertilizer use. To date, the City of Sanibel has:

* Mailed the "Be Wise if You Fertilize" DVD and brochure to all property owners on Sanibel

* Certified 91 fertilizer applicators (http://www.mysanibel.com/Building/)

* Completed training of all Police and Code Enforcement staff

* Given 7 Invited Presentations to island organizations

* Set-up and staffed a Fertilizer Information Booth at 4 homeowners' association meetings and 9 other island events

* Posted 23 Point of Sale displays with brochures

* Developed the City's Fertilizer Education Website (launch TBD)

* Offered 9 native plant tours of the grounds at City Hall

For lawns and landscape plants that may need summer nutrients beyond those available in the soil, consider the following:

* Prior to July 1, a fertilizer containing at least 50% Slow Release Nitrogen (SRN) may be applied at a rate not to exceed 1 lb nitrogen/1000 sq. ft. As the name indicates, SRN is released slowly over time and will be available for uptake by plants all summer long.

* Nitrogen is responsible for plant growth. To achieve a "green-up" without unwanted growth, a micronutrient fertilizer containing iron may be used.

* When you mow, leave the grass clippings on your lawn. As the clippings break down, the nutrients will be recycled back to your lawn.

* Most Sanibel soils have enough naturally occurring phosphorus to support healthy plants. Unless a soil test indicates otherwise, save money and choose "no phosphorus" products year-round.

For more information regarding fertilizer use on Sanibel, view the Sanibel Fertilizer Video at http://www.mysanibel.com/NaturalResources/ or contact the Natural Resources Department at (239) 472-3700.

To report violations of the Sanibel Fertilizer Ordinance, please contact the Sanibel Police Department at (239) 472-3111.

City Council Sets Caloosahatchee Project Priorities

As part of the Caloosahatchee River Watershed Protection Plan (CRWPP), the South Florida Water Management District created a technical working group, including Sanibel Mayor Mick Denham and Natural Resources Department staff. This group has been tasked with developing a list of management measures: projects that will improve water quality in the Caloosahatchee River. The complete list of proposed measures includes 127 projects, some of which will result in little or no improvement on the River's water quality.

The Sanibel City Council has decided at their May 6 meeting to look for consensus with other major stakeholders on several "big bang for the buck" projects. Given the current budget climate in Florida, the best way to get these critical projects funded is through consensus building and by speaking with one voice.

Projects selected for priority ranking by City Council include 1) a filter marsh (stormwater treatment area or STA) for the proposed new C-43 reservoir, 2) Lake Hicpochee storage/flow-way/water quality treatment feature, 3) Centralized Recyclable Water Containment Areas (RWCA's) for storage and treatment of agricultural run-off, 4) Lehigh Acres Centralized Wastewater Treatment and Re-use conversion project and 5) a filter marsh for Billy Creek.

New Lake Okeechobee Water Regulation Schedule in Effect

Following over two years of consensus building and evaluation, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced the final approval of the new Lake Okeechobee Water Regulation Schedule (LORS). This will replace the former "Water Supply Environment" (WSE) water management plan for the Lake. The new schedule, while it does not completely deter the threat of massive water releases from the Lake when heavy rains threaten the integrity of the surrounding Herbert Hoover Dike, does makes improvements to the way the Lake is managed. It seeks to keep the Lake at an overall lower level and authorizes relatively low volume water releases to the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Rivers at more environmentally acceptable rates of flow. It also requires the use of public lands for emergency water storage prior to major river releases. With close scrutiny and regular input, it is hoped this new schedule will reduce the number, severity and duration of future environmentally damaging massive releases from Lake Okeechobee.

Lee County Solid Waste Division Announces Operation of Permanent Household Chemical Waste Facility

The City of Sanibel received notification from the Lee County Solid Waste Division that they have opened a permanent Household Chemical Waste Facility located at 6441 Topaz Court, Fort Myers. (See driving instructions from Sanibel below). The permanent facility is open to all Lee County residents from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday (closed on Lee County Government observed holidays).

As Lee County taxpayers, Sanibel residents are urged to utilize this facility to dispose of household chemicals in addition to disposal at the City's annual Household Hazardous Waste Collection Day. Residents are particularly reminded, as we approach hurricane season, to clean out old, unused or expired household chemicals that could contaminate local waters in the event of a storm surge. Residents may also dispose of any unused fertilizer not in compliance with the City of Sanibel's recently adopted and amended Fertilizer Ordinance at the permanent Household Chemical Waste Facility.

Household Chemical waste includes the following materials:

*Ammunition *Antifreeze, Gasoline and Motor Oil *Auto/Boat/Motorcycle/Household/Rechargeable batteries *Cell Phones *Fertilizer *Fluorescent Bulbs and Compact Fluorescent Light Bulbs *Medication and Used Syringes/Sharps *Empty Paint Cans and Partially Emptied Paint Cans *Propane Tanks

To package and transport chemicals safely, please take the following precautions:

*DO NOT mix chemicals together.

*Keep products in original containers, if possible.

*Label materials that are not in their original containers.

*Label unknown items to the extent possible. If unaware of a specific product name, provide product category such as pesticide or cleani