It happened just last week on Little Hickory Bay in North Naples. A local news station reported that paint was dumped down a drain leading to a canal. It was paint leftover from a multi-million dollar project dumped by unsupervised workers. Can it happen in Marco at a construction site near you?
Marco Island is surrounded on all sides by water. Marco River, Factory Bay and Big Marco Pass to the north; Barfield Bay to the east with the Gulf of Mexico to the west; and Roberts Bay and Caxambas Pass at the south end. We have 100 miles of man-made canals. The island has approximately 6,500 lots,of which 4,700 have been developed.
Currently Marco is experiencing a building boom and with more development planned, we should make sure our waterways are protected from polluted runoff from construction sites.
During a pounding rain, rainwater lands on rooftops, parking lots, streets and driveways, and the polluted runoff flows into the storm grate inlet skimmer boxes, swales and ditches located all over the island. The runoff carries pollutants such as gasoline, pesticide, fertilizer, pet waste, oils, grass clippings and even tobacco spit. Some naively believe that storm water is clean. Some of these chemicals enter the food chain and end up in the fish we eat.
Everything that goesinto our storm drains makes its way to the nearest canals, bays and rivers, to the places we fish, and eventually to the Gulf of Mexico. Anything that floats, is dissolved by water or can be swept by moving water ends up in our storm water drains untreated. City staff has confirmed that we have 1,864 drain inlets, of which 1,324 are fitted with carbon filters and 427 storm drain outfall pipes.
Storm inlet skimmer boxes “clean” the runoff before it enters our waterways. The storm water passes through a skimmer tray and a hydrocarbon absorption boom.
Storm water and solids find their way into the lower section ofthe skimmer box where a smaller sieve-size filter captures the solids and allow the storm water to pass through storm drain outfall pipes into the nearest canals, bays, rivers and eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the storm water entering our waterways is certainly polluted.
Polluted water is harmful to plants, marine life, wildlife and humans. Water is our way of life. Are we doing enough to protect Marco’s waterways?
Top Pollutants of Our Waterways:
Fertilizers, pesticides & other chemicals from gardens and homes.
Loose soil, gravel, crushed shells & trash from construction sites.
Oil, grease, metals & coolants from vehicles & boats.
Bacteria from pet waste and old septic systems.
Weare the Solution to Stormwater Pollution:
Encourage our city to label all inlet skimmer boxes with
“No Dumping, Drains to Waterways” stickers.
Encourage our city to make sure all grate skimmer boxes are properly maintained and fitted with filters and carbon boom to remove debris,
sediment and hydrocarbons.
Do not fertilize during the rainy season (new fertilizer ordinance).
Do not fertilize within 10 feet of any water body (new fertilizer ordinance).
Pick up pet waste.
Keep yard waste out of storm drains.
Make your voices heard. Elect state, county and city officials who value the protection of our waterways as much as they value economic growth.
Report spills, discharges of grease, oils and solvents into our storm
drain to the Marco Island Police Department non-emergency number: 239-389-5050.