Stay in the know about wildlife, water quality, and ecosystems on Sanibel and Captiva Islands and in Southwest Florida

Chiquita Lock Removal Hearing Begins

November 29, 2023
chiquita lock cape coral

The Chiquita Lock in Cape Coral helps send the city’s (often polluted) canal water through mangrove wetlands instead of directly into the Caloosahatchee. This provides freshwater flow to mangroves, which naturally filter out nutrients and sediment, and in turn improves seagrass habitat and overall water quality.

Now, the City of Cape Coral wants to remove the lock entirely rather than fixing and updating it for improvements that would benefit both boaters and wildlife. The hearing that will decide the fate of the lock officially began Nov. 29 and runs through Dec. 7. A decision on the matter has since been postponed.

 In August, SCCF and other nonprofits who had joined together to oppose the lock’s removal were pushed to withdraw as petitioners from the legal challenge, but we continue to support keeping the lock in place.

“SCCF opposes the removal of the lock and hopes the city can come up with a solution that can protect wildlife and water quality,” said SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis. 

water quality sampling near chiquita lock

DePaolis noted improvements that could be made to the lock like adding manatee exclusion devices and converting it to a high-speed, two-way lock that could cut down wait times for boaters.

SCCF Now Conducting Water Quality Sampling Near Lock

To document how water quality is being affected near the broken Chiquita Lock, SCCF’s Marine Lab is conducting monthly sampling in the area to measure nitrogen and phosphorus, chlorophyll, and phytoplankton, among other water quality measures. 

“Regardless of the decision to either remove the lock entirely, or to fix and upgrade the lock, the Marine Lab will have environmental data to reflect the effects that these decisions have on the environment,” said SCCF Research & Policy Associate Leah Reidenbach. 


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