FGCU’s The Water School to have biggest academic building on main campus

Southwest Florida’s only university is at the forefront of research of the area’s unique watershed and gulf.

FGCU’s The Water School is helping businesses in the region by solving our water quality issues, and it will soon have a location right on FGCU’s main campus.

While The Water School was in the works before the bad harmful algal blooms of 2018, its launch during that time was significant during that period.

It’s become a trusted source for understanding how water quality impacts people, wildlife and the economy.

The Water School’s future home is set to be the biggest academic building at FGCU.

“I’m really excited for that,” graduate student Ilexxis Morales said. “It’s just been really awesome to watch as the literal walls go up.”

While this will be the official home of The Water School, its impact already goes beyond its walls.

It impacts John Paeno’s livelihood.

“I’m very concerned about what happens with all the water here,” Paeno said.

Paeno is the CEO of CGT Kayaks in Bonita Springs.

“We’re getting answers about the effect of red tide on us in an aerosol form, the effect on wildlife,” Paeno said. “We’re learning how detrimental red tide and blue-green algae are to, not just wildlife but to us too.”

Experts are setting up air samplers around town, testing our waters and earning statewide attention with the Blue-Green Algae Task Force. It’s all to improve our water quality.

“Water impacts the way we think, the way we feel,” said Professor Greg Tolley, the executive director of The Water School. “It impacts our economy. It impacts business development in the area.”

The Water School’s home on main campus is scheduled to open next in January 2022. It’s bridging the environment, people and everything in between.

“As the Lucas Professor of Real Estate, for us to have a reason to be training students to go into careers in real estate here, we have to have good clean water,” said Professor Shelton Weeks, an economist and affiliate The Water School faculty member.

Reporter:Stephanie Byrne
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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