04.12.17 Shoreline Spotlight
A monthly submission from the Marine Resources Task Force
Florida has a complex relationship with water, it is either pouring down in buckets and flooding our streets, or there is not enough to go around, and sometimes both. The process of turning the rainwater of the rainy season into the clean water that gets piped to our houses requires time and money. The vast wetlands of old Florida worked to keep our aquifers full by letting the water seep into the ground. We have taken control of this process and channel the water so it swiftly runs into the rivers and the sea, and away from our aquifers. The Town is busy at work with our storm water project, with the emphasis of trying to send the water into the Back Bay. Our storm water system is designed to trap some debris out of the water, but the in-ground pipe outfall system does little for chemicals in solution, including fertilizer runoff, and little to recharge our depleting aquifers.
The holy grail for storm water is to trap and allow the water to infiltrate through the ground. Plants help absorb dissolved nitrogen and the water helps recharge our depleted aquifers. We live on a small, heavily developed island. There is not enough available surface area to handle the amount of runoff that a big summer rain can generate. It is also expensive and impractical to expect our small town government to take care of all of our runoff issues. There are simple solutions that can help by using infiltration for smaller storms and help keep the water away from houses.
The storm water system is designed to handle 10 year storms with over 7 inches of water falling in 24 hours. Summer residents know that we have hundreds of smaller storms of under a half inch of rain in between those 10 year storms. Most of our lots have impervious surfaces, and some are entirely impervious. Impervious and raised lots make it easier for the homeowner, but that water has to go somewhere and that somewhere is the street or the neighbors lot. Some seasonal visitors opt for a low maintenance yard that contributes to their neighbor's flooding while they are up north and unaffected. Most of us come from somewhere else, and things are different here. Our relationship with water is complex, especially in the rainy season. There are options individual property owners can utilize, such as shallow depressions along the town right of way to gather excess water from small storms to soak in the ground. A hybrid system is more neighborly, better for our waters, and sets a better example to those upstream who affect our waters. It is a kind of system that requires residents to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
Many residents are new homeowners who inherited their yard, along with a potential history of filled in swales and impervious landscaping. The Town has two useful brochures. PRISM, or Personal Responsibility for Island Stormwater Management, explains some best practices and offers compelling reasons how your actions affect you and your neighbors water quality. The Rain Barrels and Rain Gardens guide can help you create effective and beautiful rain gardens in your yard. If you want to discuss adding rain gardens, swales or other island friendly landscaping you can contact Rae Blake with the Town or talk to anyone on the Marine Resource Task Force (MRTF). We would be more than happy to discuss your project and help you plan.
The Marine Resource Task Force will not be meeting in April due to scheduling conflicts, our next meeting in May 10th.
Bill Veach, MRTF Chair
April's Murphy Award: Corri Francisco
From turtles to trash cleanup, there's not much that long-time islander Corri Francisco doesn't get involved with on Fort Myers Beach. For more than 20 years, Corri has been passionately dedicated to preserving our natural resources, such as getting up before the sun to walk the beach as a Turtle Time volunteer; participating with the Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation in the annual Great American Clean Up and International Coastal Clean Up; and cleaning up the Back Bay as part of Monofilament Madness just to name a few. She's been instrumental in teaching the next generation to take care of our beach, too, by making beach cleanups a family tradition and showing others how to do the same. "We live on the beach, we love the beach, so we clean the beach," Corri said. "My entire life I have lived on the beach, from coast to coast. There is nothing like taking in a deep breath of salt air and knowing you're home, so I feel like I should do my part to keep our entire beach beautiful as well as encourage those around me."
This month's Murphy award goes to Corri Francisco, for her tireless efforts behind the scenes.
The award is named after the Marine Resources Task Force's acronym, MRTF, which is affectionally pronounced "murph."
Know someone who is a good environmental steward on the beach? Submit your suggestions to Rae@FortMyersBeachFL.gov.