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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 routinely monitors 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 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.)

The Monofilament Problem

fish line
Problems for Wildlife:
  • Because the fishing line is thin and often clear, it is very difficult for birds and animals to see, and they can easily brush up against it and become entangled.
  • Researchers have documented over 60 fish species that have swallowed or become entangled in marine debris.
  • Dolphins, manatees, and sea turtles may also ingest or become entangled in fishing lines.
  • Hundreds of seabirds are rescued annually due to hook and line entanglements, and many less fortunate birds die.
Problems for People:
  • Floating fishing line can get caught in boat engines, resulting in costly repairs.
  • When surveyed, boat motor repair services in Northeast Florida indicated that approximately 25% - 30% of all repairs were associated with fishing line entanglement on the propeller or the shaft.
  • Boaters have been hooked by fishing gear hanging from bridges.
  • It is difficult for humans, as it is for wildlife, to see fishing line floating in the water or tangled up in the rocks.  There are documented cases of swimmers & divers becoming entangled in fishing line, panicking, and drowning.

What is the Monofilament Recovery and Recycling Program?
The Monofilament Recovery & Recycling Program (MRRP) is a statewide effort to educate the public on the problems caused by monofilament lines left in the environment and encourage recycling through a network of line recycling bins and drop-off locations, and conduct volunteer monofilament line cleanup events.

Click here to visit the statewide MRRP website. The partners for the Cape Coral MRRP are the City of Cape Coral, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program.

How Can You Help?
  • Be Line Consciouss - Consider the age and strength of your line. Keep track of all line you use. It is particularly important to take the time to remove fishing line from the mangroves if it becomes tangled there after miscasting. Small pieces of line cut from leaders can be stored in a mini monofilament recycling bin, available for no cost at City Hall and Rotary Park Environmental Center.
  • Recover Fishing Line - Whenever possible, retrieve and properly dispose of any fishing line that you encounter. 

  • Recycle - Fishing lines cannot be included in your regular recycling bin but can be returned to the manufacturer and recycled into new fishing gear. Recycle fishing lines at a local tackle shop or an outdoor PVC recycling bin, which are posted at boat ramps and piers throughout the City. If the tackle shop you visit does not have a recycling bin, encourage them to participate in the program. If you must throw your used line into the trash, first cut it into lengths shorter than 6 inches. This will lower the likelihood of entanglement or ingestion by wildlife, as birds, small mammals, or even wind can pull it out of a garbage pail or landfill.

Additional Resources: