Monitoring Water Quality in the Caloosahatchee Watershed

Monitoring Water Quality

The Caloosahatchee today is a 75 mile long river and estuary which runs from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico across the western two-thirds of peninsular Florida. Three lock and dam structures manage water on 43 miles of the river creating two freshwater pools that feed 32 miles of tidally influenced estuary west of the WP Franklin Lock and Dam, known as S79 (structure 79).  

Historically the Caloosahatchee was not connected to Lake Okeechobee; it was a twisting curving river that flowed from a  waterfall and rapids at Fort Thompson located two miles east of today's town of  LaBelle.  The river was fed by a series of lakes surrounded by marshes that were part of the western Everglades. The natural fall of the land from Lake Okeechobee to the west directed some water from high lake stages west into the 7,776 acre Lake Hicpochee and its marsh lands then to the 522 acre Bonnett Lake, to the 100+ acre Lettuce Lake and finally into the 3,318 acre Lake Flirt where high water stages fed the Caloosahatchee over the waterfall and quarter mile of rapids. Springs and groundwater flow provided the river freshwater year round.  

The Caloosahatchee Conundrum - A Goldilocks Condition

Today the man altered, channelized river and estuary are challenged by extremes of too much or too little water, yo-yoing between massive dumps of unwanted water in the wet season and too little to no water flow in the dry season and droughts. Damaging high flows wash the estuary nursery out of the river into the Gulf of Mexico and dump harmful levels of excess nutrients and colored dissolved organic matter (CDOM) that harms seagrass, habitat and water quality. Lack of flow in the dry season and droughts cause salinities to rise to harmful levels in the upper estuary killing the freshwater habitat needed for recreational and commercial fisheries and the food web. Water stagnation from lack of flow causes harmful algal blooms in the upriver pools. 

Addressing excess water needs requires re-creating storage to capture and treat surface water throughout the greater Everglades ecosystem. Storage provides water quality treatment, recharges ground water, extends the hydro period for wetlands and habitat, and can improve the timing of water deliveries.  

Caloosahatchee Condition Reports

In 2011 SCCF policy staff developed a weekly report of Caloosahatchee, estuary and coastal conditions to provide real time conditions to water managers at the Army Corps of Engineers and South Florida Water Management District to inform water delivery operations and policy decisions. The SCCF Policy department works with Marine Lab staff to provide current local monitored water conditions and coordinates with local stakeholders including the Refuge, local cities and Lee County. This data and analysis is also shared on the Corps periodic scientists phone call.

You can sign up to receive the weekly condition reports by email here.

2021 Weekly Reports:

 
January 5 January 12 January 19  January 26   
February 2 February 9 February 16 February 23  
March 2 March 9 March 16 March 23 March 30 
April 6 April 13 April 20 April 27  
May 4 May 11  May 18 May 25  
June 1 June 8 June 15 June 22  June 29
July 6 July 13 July 20 July 27   
August 3 August 11 August 18 August 24 August 31
September 7 September 14 September 21  September 28  
October 5 October 13 October 19    

 

2020 Weekly Reports:

 January 7  February 4  March 3  March 31
 January 14  February 11  March 10  April 7
 January 21  February 18  March 17  April 14
 January 28  February 25  March 24

 April 21

 

  April 29  May 26  June 23  July 21
  May 5  June 2  June 30  July 28
  May 12  June 9  July 7  August 4
  May 19  June 16  July 14  August 11
       

 

 August 18  September 15 October 13 November 10 December 08
 August 25  September 22 October 20 November 17 December 15
 September 1  September 29 October 27 November 24 December 22
 September 8  October 6  November 3 December 01  

 
*2019 reports can be found in the sidebar on the right.