Goldilocks and Water

102

Between readers and advertisers, we sometimes suspect that we “hear it all.” We get emails, letters to the Editor, office walk-ins, are stopped mid-aisle in Publix, you name it. In a small town where everybody knows everybody, that includes those that own or work at the newspaper, the typical topics of comment include Estero Blvd construction (look out south end – it’s headed your way), noise, traffic, Town Hall doings & code enforcement.

Of late however, we are glad to report that water quality is not on this list. This is due to relatively normal historical water quality. However, the subject of ongoing water quality reporting does raise the question – how much information is enough?

Some want daily reports, which are not available from any reliable source. When Red Tide is really bad, there are twice a week reports from the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission. They have a page (bit.ly/RedTideisp) where they list the past 8 days of testing. Other entities test the water, like the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, but not daily, and not everywhere in Lee County.

When water conditions are bad, we provide the scientific testing results and background information. That information is shared on our website, social media and in our weekly newspaper.

Those on the other end of spectrum cry “R-E-L-A-X!”  We know our local business community needs regular visitor customer flow. ‘Don’t scare people away. Red Tide has occurred forever with scattered loss of marine life, temporary odors and beach debris. Offshore winds solve many problems quite quickly.’

Red Tide effects are indeed very difficult to predict, and reports only capture one moment in time. Last summer, we had high levels and they stayed high for months. A more “normal” Red Tide event brings levels that fluctuate with the winds and currents. Levels may be high one morning at one beach and a couple hours later, the wind has blown it all offshore.

We know it can be confusing trying to decide who and what to believe. Governor DeSantis has created a website at www.protectingfloridatogether.gov to focus on water quality, for now the Caloosahatchee River, Lake Okeechobee and St Lucie River. This site gathers testing data and allows you to sign up for regular updates.

At the risk of alienating readers at both ends, we respectfully suggest the answer to the right amount of water condition reporting lies somewhere in the middle, as Goldilocks found. Our reporting focus is on changing conditions with an increase in coverage when water conditions are poor. And by the way, our reporting is not based on what we wish or don’t wish to be true. It’s from reliable local scientific sources we have researched and used regularly over the past few years. We encourage readers to learn how they can check water quality reports themselves at any time by saving the water quality links we share in this week’s Around & About pages.

Why isn’t there a water report in this week’s paper? Because the most recent testing, done on Dec 2, shows only one Very Low test result along FMB at Matanzas Pass. All other FMB locations were clear of Red Tide.