SCCF Launches New Webpage to Track Water Quality
Water quality in Southwest Florida is greatly influenced by freshwater delivered to the Gulf of Mexico from the Caloosahatchee. Regardless of whether it is runoff from the Caloosahatchee watershed or discharges from Lake Okeechobee, the quality and clarity of the water received directly impacts the ecology of our estuary and coastal waters, property values, and tourism-based economy. Today, SCCF launched a new Aerial Water Quality Webpage to visually track water quality conditions around Sanibel Island.
Through a grant provided by the Coastal and Heartland National Estuary Partnership (CHNEP), the SCCF policy team purchased a drone to capture weekly aerial images from Lighthouse Beach Park on Sanibel. These images are assembled to create a 360-degree panoramic image that allows viewers to take a virtual tour of the coastal waters around Sanibel Island.
Through the virtual tour of Lighthouse Beach Park, you can see how the water quality at this location is influenced by freshwater flows from the estuary over time. The images are taken from 300 feet up in the air, allowing viewers to see the current water quality conditions. These images also allow SCCF scientists to track the Caloosahatchee plume frontal zone and evaluate its position at various flow levels. This provides important information for water managers on how best to manage discharges from Lake Okeechobee to minimize impacts to seagrass beds and other ecological resources.
The images are available on SCCF’s new website and are also published in the weekly Caloosahatchee and Estuary Conditions Report, which is sent to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, South Florida Water Management District, and Florida Department of Environmental Protection, as well as hundreds of engaged citizens. We hope that the interactive virtual tour will provide a useful tool for residents, visitors, and the business community, and will help shed light on the effects of high-volume discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee watershed. These new tools support SCCF’s science-to-solutions approach and will help us better advocate for the Caloosahatchee estuary and interests of Southwest Florida.