Captains for Clean Water celebrates victories in quest for better water quality –

Daniel Andrews, who became captain for Clean Water two years before southwest Florida’s blue-green algae crisis of 2018, hopes to someday close his non-profit organization and go fishing full-time. can come back for.

Andrews said this year’s events give him hope for further Everglades restoration and better water management practices that treat the region as damaging water releases from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahache River.

“I think the veto of Senate Bill 2508 was one of the strongest messages that has ever been sent where we are with Everglades restoration and water management,” said Andrews, who was featured in this month’s issue Gulfshore Business magazine. “That bill was an attack on all the progress made in the last decade on water management and Everglades restoration. In vetoing that bill, I think the governor sent a very strong message that we are in a new era.

But there is still work to be done, said Andrews, who met with Governor Ron DeSantis several times before vetoing the bill in June.

Andrews took Gulfshore Business On the water again this week to show where the damaging effects from the Okeechobee Lake discharge remain in effect, near the mouth of the river as it flows into the Gulf of Mexico adjacent to Kitchel Key.

“It really is ground zero for permanent damage from Lake Okeechobee,” Andrews said. “If you turned the clock back and came here 15, 20 years ago, there were a lot of healthy sea grass beds, turtle grass beds and oyster beds around these islands. That’s what’s changed.

“It’s the main channel that brings water from Caloosahatchee into the Gulf of Mexico. This is one area where all that water really gets funneled. The water from Lake Okeechobee gets funneled out of there. Because of that, it’s The area has been hit hard.”

Andrews said better water quality means a better business environment in the region. A University of Florida study showed that the tourism sector lost $184 million in 2018 due to algae outbreaks.

“The work we do at Captain for Clean Water is something that is important to all of the local businesses, residents and property owners here,” Andrews said. “All our property values ​​are directly linked to the health of these mohallas. If we have dead fish and algae blooms, it has a direct, negative effect on our real estate. Even if you live inland.

“If you look around and see all the hotels and waterfront restaurants here, real estate, our economy depends on this water. It didn’t happen 100 years ago. Now it does. We have to deal with this resource much better than before.”

He said restoration of the Everglades along Lake Okeechobee and better water management practices are Captain for Clean Water’s top missions.

The veto of that bill has given Andrews hope that perhaps someday he can enjoy less time in the office and more time outside fighting for clean water.

“The cleanest and clearest water we’ve ever seen this year,” Andrews said. “Between the new Lake Steering Plan and hitting that bad bill, we’ve made the most progress this year. People are engaged in this fight. We’re not going to stop until a permanent solution is found.”

Captains for Clean Water celebrates victories in quest for better water quality

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