Sixty years of intensive land alteration activities in the Naples Bay watershed such as canal construction and urban development have resulted in severe degradation to the water quality, hydrology and aquatic life of Naples Bay. The large-scale development and alteration of the region began in the early 1900s, following the construction of the Tamiami Trail in 1926.
Naples Bay was first dredged in 1930, followed by more intensive dredge-and-fill developments in the 1950s and 60s as the population continued to grow. The development of the region has resulted in extensive destruction of mangroves, seagrasses, and oyster habitats within the bay.
In addition, Naples Bay is polluted with copper and shows upward trends for chlorophyll-a, which is linked to nutrient pollution. The copper pollution is related to nutrients as well. When fertilizer containing nutrients is applied to lawns and golf courses in the Naples Bay watershed, it can end up in stormwater ponds and cause algae blooms. A common practice to get rid of algae is to spray copper sulfate on the ponds. Unfortunately, the copper not only kills the algae but then ends up in area waterbodies, like Naples Bay, and can be toxic to oysters and other aquatic organisms.
One of the most significant impacts of the virtually eliminated natural water flows by development and canals is the large fluctuations in freshwater dumped into Naples Bay from the Golden Gate Canal and Henderson Creek. There are several watershed projects planned for restoring a more natural flow of freshwater which are outlined in the Collier County Watershed Management Plan. There are also several mangrove and oyster restoration activities ongoing by City of Naples. However, the water quality must also be addressed for the restoration activities to be successful. That means a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) and Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP) will need to be developed to address the water quality problems in Naples Bay.
Click here to see the work our Science and Research Department is doing with Naples Bay.
The Gordon River is one of the tributaries to Naples Bay, and is connected to the Golden Gate Canal. It is currently considered polluted and has a Total Maximum Daily Load to address the dissolved oxygen and nutrient problems in the Gordon River. It is also suffering from copper pollution, like Naples Bay.
There have been several filter marsh projects completed to help alleviate some of the pollution issues. One is at Collier County’s Freedom Park, and the other is on the Conservancy’s campus – the Shotwell Wavering Family Filter Marsh. Both marshes help filter out pollutants from stormwater runoff before it reaches the Gordon River.
The marshes also serve as habitat for fish, wading birds and other native wildlife like otters and turtles. The Gordon River is currently waiting on implementation of a Basin Management Action Plan for additional water quality restoration.
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