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Restoring Our Waterbody

  • Restoring the quality of our waterbody is pivotal to our quality of life.

Over twenty years ago, when my husband and I moved to our home on Smokehouse Bay, we found that being on the water was breathtaking. For years it was like living inside of a “vacation postcard.”

I’ve noticed a nasty ring around our boat during the last four years when I raise it on the lift to rinse it off. The two sea turtles that lived in the bay and regularly came around have disappeared. The mini-reef under our dock is now clogged with algae, and the fish are now gone. Knowing that all of this isn’t normal, my husband and I set out to discover the root cause of the problem.

  • The Problem

After extensive analysis, researching scientific papers, and statistically analyzing 15-years of Marco water sample data (and the surrounding estuary); the data irrefutably points to a classic deterioration of oxygen in the waterways due to algal blooms.

These blooms are fed by excess nutrients entering our, interior to Marco, waterways. The statistics point to excessive phosphorus in our reuse irrigation water (purple pipes) being the dominant driver (followed by nitrogen). The nutrients feed algal blooms that consume the water's oxygen when the algae die and decompose.

  • Where are the excessive nutrients coming from?

The point source of phosphorus in the interior of Marco's waterways comes from is the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP). Today, the WWTP sells the equivalent of “liquid fertilizer” across Marco for medians, condo building landscapes, and large properties such as hotels and golf courses. Ironically, Marco’s Fertilizer Ordinance bans phosphorus in our domestic fertilizer use, and bans the application of fertilizer from June-1st to September-30th; but the city is selling it daily (year-round) as reuse water for irrigation, which damages our environment. This reuse sewer water is laden with phosphorus & nitrogen well in excess of what the FDEP allows to be discharged into pristine waters.

  • We Can Fix This

The WWTP's current technology to treat the reuse water does not remove phosphorus. There is a ‘win-win’ solution; the WWTP should install an Advanced Water Treatment (AWT) process that removes the phosphorus from the reuse water. AWTs are used in the Naples WWTP, all throughout the FL Keys, and is being installed in Everglades City. Proven science states that phosphorus in reuse water feeds algal blooms, which depletes the oxygen in our waterways during the algal life cycle.

Our waterways' HEALTH (oxygen) is DECLINING, but we can fix this. ELIMINATING THE PHOSPHORUS in our reuse water is the immediate step number one!

  • Call to Action

If we do nothing, we can expect the problem to get worse. On November 8th, YOU have the opportunity to make your voice heard with your vote. I’m committed to taking the necessary steps to restore our waterbody.

Nanette Rivera

2022 Candidate for Marco Island City Council

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