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Neighbors concerned as low water levels lead to spread of water lilies in their canal

Posted at 7:09 PM, May 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-28 19:09:39-04

CAPE CORAL — We’re following concerning conditions in a Cape Coral canal.

The water is so low you can see the bottom, and water lilies are starting to grow out of control.

We spoke with Anne Ewing, who just moved to Cape Coral from California last year. She bought a house on the water to be close to fish and birds, and she said these new lilies threaten all of that.

"It can completely destroy a very delicately balanced ecosystem like this one. It will choke out the endemic species, the plants and animals that belong here," said Ewing.

She also said debris in the canal is becoming unsightly, and she wants the City to do something.

"Dredging would be one option to get rid of these," said Ewing.

Unfortunately, the City of Cape Coral said it can’t dredge out the plants and debris, saying "Maintenance dredging is limited to a maximum of five feet below the weir crest elevation. This canal is not being considered for dredging due to this limitation.”

Another entity, called the Lee County Hyacinth Control District, regularly sprays to keep the lilies in check, but it can’t do that right now either, because the water is too low and it would threaten the fish.

"The dissolved oxygen levels would plummet, and even if they do make it out, they’re so stressed they’ll probably either expire or pass away in the next day or so," said Deputy Director Kevin Watts.

Watts said another way they try to manage the plants is with fish that eat them, called Grass Carp, but that’s not working either.

“We’re having difficulty getting Grass Carp. The hatchery which we've purchased them from the last 10 plus years looks they will be going out of business," said Watts.

So the only thing that will help right now is a little rain. Ewing said, she just hopes it happens soon.

"It won’t be long until it’s permanently not traversable anymore," said Ewing.