FGCU, Collier County partners in cleaning up Naples Bay

Posted at 7:22 PM, Nov 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-17 19:22:13-05

Florida Gulf Coast University and Collier County announced a new partnership Thursday with the aim of improving the water quality in Naples Bay.

For decades, runoff from fertilizers and pesticides have flowed into the Gordon River and Naples Bay, threatening that ecosystem.

Historically, Naples Bay received drainage from about ten square miles. The drainage area is now 127 square miles. FGCU ecologist Dr. William Mitsch will lead the study on how to limit future pollution.

"Like what do we do with all the fertilizer we're dumping into all our waterways, and how might we be able to work with agriculture and solve that problem?" Mitsch said.

Collier County Commissioner Penny Taylor welcomes the partnership with FGCU. She said the water in Naples Bay was much clearer when she first came to Naples in the mid-1960s.

"Can we restore it to its former glory?" Taylor asked. "Probably not, unless we change what's around it. But we can certainly learn (from) it and improve it."

Rodney George, who likes taking his Waverunner out on Naples Bay, wishes the water wasn't so brown.

"Clean water makes a big difference," he said. "I'd be open to ideas on how you clean this up."

Dr. Mitsch said that if it weren't for the natural filtration system of marshes at Fred Coyle Freedom Park just north of the Gordon River, which flows into Naples Bay, the water quality in the bay would likely be much worse.