A guide to understanding the health of Southwest Florida’s rivers, estuaries and bays


Southwest Florida is home to some of the most unique habitats and natural resources in America, making it a top destination for ecotourism, scientific research, and recreational enjoyment. It also hosts some of the most productive estuaries, and many species of wildlife, plant species and aquatic life rely on this area where freshwater meets saltwater. A mosaic of mangroves, freshwater wetlands, saltwater marshes, rivers, and streams intertwine with canals, coastal development, agriculture and other human-influenced environments to create an interrelated and challenging system to manage and preserve.

The beauty and productivity of Florida’s coastal ecosystems are driving forces in the state’s economic growth. Our economy, human health and our quality of life in Southwest Florida depend on the health of our waterways.

1.2 million
Number of Florida jobs that depend on tourism*

$541 million
Estimated decrease in property values in Lee county attributed to water quality (2010-2013)**

$11.5 billion
Economic impact of the marine industry in the South Florida region, which employs 136,000 regionally***

$9.3 billion
Economic impact of the commercial fishing industry, which employs 123,000***

Estuaries Report Card: INTERaCTIVE ELEMENTS

Conservancy Recommendations

Print Versions / Acknowledgments



*Employment data from the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (as reported by Visit Florida)

** The Impact of Water Quality on Florida’s Home Values – Florida Realtors. Final Report 2015

****2014 The Marine Industries Association of Florida study

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