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Chiquita Lock One Step Closer to Removal, Despite Environmental Concerns

June 11, 2024
chiquita lock

The City of Cape Coral can have the permit to remove the Chiquita Lock, according to a June 10 ruling by Administrative Law Judge Suzanne Van Wyk.

The Chiquita Lock, which has been broken since Hurricane Ian, was engineered to send polluted canal water through mangrove wetlands to be filtered rather. Without it, polluted water would flow directly into the Caloosahatchee estuary. SCCF was one of the original petitioners opposing the lock’s removal before needing to withdraw from the legal challenge last August.

map showing Chiquita lock location

The June 10 ruling concluded the City of Cape Coral had met the necessary environmental standards to remove the lock, largely through offsets for the nutrients that will flow freely from Cape Coral canals into the Caloosahatchee estuary. The decision also questions the impact petitioners claimed the removal would have on water quality and mangrove health in the area. 

These findings can still be appealed to the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection and the appellate courts.

“While the decision is unfortunate, petitioners have expressed an interest in continuing to fight the removal of the lock through other avenues available to them,” said SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis. “We would have liked to see the city work to improve the lock to lessen the impact to boating wait times and manatees without losing the water quality protections that the lock provides.”

SCCF’s Marine Lab has been conducting monthly sampling near the Chiquita Lock to measure nitrogen and phosphorus, chlorophyll, and phytoplankton. This continued monitoring will provide the data to allow us to understand the impact of the removal on water quality and surrounding ecosystems.  

The city proposes to offset nutrient pollution through credits from multiple sources, including their septic-to-sewer conversions, enhanced stormwater management, and habitat augmentation through the planting of 3,000 mangrove saplings and installation of reef balls. 

More on the Chiquita Lock Hearing


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