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Environmental Resources

Water Quality & Conservation

Cape Coral's 400-mile canal system is a definitive feature of our City and one of our most vital economic assets. Our canals offer waterfront living and recreation, protect our homes from floods, enhance property values, supply us with irrigation water, and attract wildlife to our City.

Cape Coral's citizens recognize the canal system's impact on their quality of life and are highly protective of the area's marine assets. This protective attitude is our canal network's first line of defense against pollution, as calls from alert residents are often the first indication of a canal-related problem. Our citizens' concern for their canals led to the formation of the Cape Coral Canalwatch Volunteer Program in 1995.

The Environmental Resources section of the City of Cape Coral Stormwater Division conducts routine monitoring of the city's stormwater systems to determine the quality of the City’s stormwater resources. Sampling is conducted at 39 sites throughout the City. Field staff regularly attends DEP (Department of Environmental Protection) surface water sampling training. Laboratory samples are analyzed by the City of Cape Coral Environmental Resources Laboratory. Field staff collects sonde (a water quality instrument) data. All methods follow the American Public Health Association's (1989) Standard Methods for the Examination of Water and Wastewater. Water quality stations are monitored monthly for:

          - Dissolved Oxygen
- Total Suspended Solids
- Fecal Coliforms 
          - Temperature
- Nitrate 
- Fecal Streptococcus
          - pH
- Nitrite 
- Chlorophyll A
          - Conductivity & Salinity
- Total Nitrogen
- Biochemical Oxygen Demand
          - Turbidity 
- Total Phosphorous - Secchi Disk Depth

--> See Water Quality Data (based on Environmental Resources staff sampling)

The "Canal Current" is a quarterly newsletter featuring articles about issues related to Cape Coral's canal system, a calendar of upcoming environment-related events, and the results of Canalwatch sample analyses.

--> Click here for details on the Canalwatch Volunteer Program and other Volunteer Opportunities

Canal Sunset cropped   photo courtesy of Jeanette Chupack

(Photo by Jeanette Chupack)

Algae Issues 
Both freshwater and saltwater algae occur in our stormwater canals. Green and brown algae are often seen and grow on anything immersed in water, receiving sunlight. Free-floating red, green, or brown algae may drift by or show up in the canals. This is most often caused by too many nutrients and too little water flow. It is also contributed to by the overuse of fertilizer and the destruction of rooted plants along the shore and bottom.

Many canals have less submerged aquatic vegetation than needed to remove nutrients and limit algae growth. Algae is natural and can show up year-round. High nutrients and rising water temperatures have led to increased blooms within the City.

--> See Algae Reporting

What is Stormwater Runoff?
When rain falls on impervious surfaces, it flows to nearby stormwater conveyance systems; this is stormwater runoff. Stormwater runoff picks up and carries pollution. Trash, oil, grease, sediments, and pet waste are just a few pollutants that can be deposited into waterbodies by stormwater runoff. Soluble chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides can also become stormwater pollutants.

Rain Barrels
Rain barrels are used to collect and harvest rainwater to water landscapes, gardens, or indoor plants.  In addition to providing a free water source, rain barrels also help limit the stormwater runoff that flows into Cape Coral’s canals, reducing the amount of nutrients and pollutants that reach the canals.  Rain barrels are a great way to conserve water and can help supplement irrigation water during the dry season.  The water collected in rain barrels can be used anytime, and its use is not subject to watering restrictions.  The City of Cape Coral offers Rain Barrel Workshops where participants can learn how to make and install rain barrels (contact Rotary Park at 239-549-4606 for details.)

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