Concerned residents in Cape Coral say removing the Chiquita lock could mean disastrous consequences for water quality.
"If the Chiquita lock functions as a toxic algae barrier, it's prudent to investigate its functionality prior to removing the lock,” resident Yolanda Olsen told council members at a meeting Monday.
Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello says a permit to take down the lock was requested by his predecessor three years ago to remove the lock, located at 5808 Cape Harbour Drive.
The Department of Environmental Protection just issued that permit this month.
"After a water crisis that we went through, we need to be looking at every source of nutrients,” said Cape Resident Jason Pim.
Pim says the lock acts as filter, preventing nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus runoff from getting into the Caloosahatchee River. The kind of run off blamed for the toxic algae build up in Southwest Florida over the summer.
"Even without nutrients, just the turbidity of the water, if the water is cloudy sea grasses can't grow,” said Pim.
Pim says if the lock is taken down, the sudden increase in water flow into the Caloosahatchee could destroy the sea grass and oyster beds.
"Unfortunately we have this culture of just develop, develop, develop, and convenience taking precedence of being a good steward of our waters."
Opponents of removing the lock say they will appeal the permit to DEP, which will hold a hearing on the issue before rendering a decision.