Lee County renews water quality agreement to maintain vital resources

The Lee County Board of County Commissioners recently renewed an agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey to monitor our water flow and quality — a vital partnership for Southwest Florida’s resources.

“I had the opportunity to get out, and I said, ‘Oh, I want to go to one of my favorite places,’ and this is it,” said Kathryn Hart in Fort Myers.

Hart calls Six Mile Cypress Slough Preserve a special place that she hopes many locals realize and will come to realize.

“It’s very peaceful,” Hart said. “And I think that if people really understood how important it was to protect the environment, that they would want to enjoy the spaces.”

Six Mile Cypress Slough is over 3,400 acres of wetland in Fort Myers (https://www.sloughpreserve.org/preserve). Credit: WINK News.

The slough is part of Lee County’s network of waterways, some of which are tracked by Lee County and the U.S. Geological Survey.

“We’ve been conducting this service with USGS for as long as the 1970s,” said Roland Ottolini, Lee County’s natural resources director. “So it’s been very valuable to have this partnership with USGS.”

USGS collects water flow data from places in the county like Whiskey Creek and the slough preserve.

“If you couple that with water quality data, you can get an idea of what pollutants, how much of it is actually making its way to our waterways on an annualized basis,” Ottolini said.

The county also looks for where the pollutants come from, what they are and how to keep water clean.

Lee County, Florida Department of Environmental Protection and U.S. Geological Survey all pay for the water flow study, totaling around $250,000. The agreement between Lee County and USGS is decades old. And people like Hart hope this will continue to preserve her favorite spot.

“Water is essential to life,” Hart said. “We need to make sure that we have plenty of water, and keeping a good flow and the slough is important for wildlife; it’s important for water; it’s important for all sorts of environmental factors; and it’s a beautiful place to just hang out.”


Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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