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The Natural Resources Division manages our surface water, groundwater resources  and coastal systems, addressing the needs for water quality, conservation, flood protection, safe navigation and habitat preservation. Specific duties include: managing capital improvement projects, operation of an environmental laboratory, well permitting, water conservation and pollution prevention initiatives, water quality inspections and monitoring, beach preservation, water-way and vessel clearing, and inspections of pollutant storage tanks and suspected sites of illicit dumping.

​Surface Water Management

Miles of Waterways Cleaned and Maintained
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After a rain storm, runoff from yards and highways, farm fields, commercial development and natural areas flows through ditches and canals, ponds, creeks and streams to its final destination – the Gulf of Mexico. While Lee County Transportation manages roadside drainage systems, Natural Resources monitors 106 miles of natural and semi-natural drainage waterways, which are susceptible to debris, exotic vegetation, pollutants and blockages that cause flooding.  

Staff prioritizes a cleaning and snagging program based on potential flood threat and the ability to obtain access. Depending on the degree of blockages, approximately 3-4 miles of waterways can be cleared each year.  

 

Orange River befordOrange River After
​Orange River Before (left) and After (right)

 

Proposed development within Lee County is reviewed for its potential impacts to surface and groundwater quality, water supply and flooding. Due to the generally flat topography of our region, minor changes in land form can have far-reaching consequences beyond the limits of the project.

Development Projects Reviewed
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​Staff reviews the projects and flood plain encroachments that pose the most risk to the County's natural resources. Plan review ensures compliance with local ordinances, regulations and master planning efforts, and confirms compliance with State and Federal regulations.

Density Reduction/Groundwater Resource (DR/GR)

​(DRGR 2016)

 

Number of Inspections
New Construction, Illicit Discharge, and Landscape Ordinance
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Inspections are preventive measures that not only control code violations and illicit discharges of pollutants, but also help educate the public.

Keeping waterways clean and unpolluted enhances the quality of life in Lee County and directly affects our tourism. 

Pollution prevention avoids costly environmental clean-up.illicit discharge to waterway

​Note: The high count in 2011 was due to additional resources working on landscape ordinance inspections.

 

Pounds of Nitrogen Removed

 

The Caloosahatchee River and several other waterways are impaired with excess nutrients that can lead to algal blooms, fish kills, depleted aquatic habitat and human health risk. 

Lee County Natural Resources develops projects and programs to reduce nitrogen, the pollutant of concern, in compliance with the State of Florida regulations.

Powell Creek Filter Marsh
Powell Creek Fiter Marsh

Filters marshes like the one constructed near Powell Creek, pictured above, remove sediments and nutrients from stormwater from the nearby community through several physical, chemical and biological processes. Source control measures, such as the County’s fertilizer ordinance, help prevent the amount of nutrients entering our waterways, thereby reducing the need for costly clean-up. ​ ​

 

​Environmental Lab

Number of Tests Performed
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​The Lee County Environmental Laboratory monitors levels of pollution in surface water, ground water, treated and un-treated waste water, rain water, and treated drinking water for federal, state, and locally mandated pollutants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Concentration of Nutrients in the Caloosahatchee River Estuary

Lee County Natural Resources has three major monitoring programs, including Caloosahatchee estuary monitoring, which consists of six, fixed sites sampled monthly to monitor the concentration of pollutants.

Note: These figures represent the "average" reading across the area per month.

 

PHOSPHORUS (mg/L)
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NITROGEN (mg/L)
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​Florida Administrative Code 62-302.530​Note: The limit of 1.54 mg/L Total Nitrogen is the generic freshwater standard and would apply for upstream of the Franklin Locks.

 

CHLOROPHYLLA (mg/M3)
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​​Florida Administrative Code 62-302.530

 

​Pollution Prevention

Pollution Prevention (P2) Assessments
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Natural Resources performs onsite assessments of key facilities to determine whether they meet monthly limits on the pounds of hazardous waste they generate onsite in a calendar month.

Assessments are reported to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The "P2" pollution prevention assessment reduces other regulatory requirements, cuts compliance cost and protects natural resources.

 

 

 

 

 

Complaints Investigated and Sites Remediated
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Gallons of Waste Removed

​Natural Resources works to ensure discharges of regulated waste is properly abated and responsible party held accountable for associated cost. Cases are tracked from start to finish for verification of final outcome.

waste in fieldwaste by waterwaste in brush

 

​Groundwater (Quantity, Quality, Protection)

Number of Wells Permitted and Inspected

​Groundwater is Lee County’s main source of drinking water, so it is important to protect this resource by issuing permits and inspecting well construction.

well site 

 

​Storage Tank Inspections

Number of Storage Tanks Inspected for Pollution

Regulated storage tank inspections are vital to prevent contamination of aquifers from leaks and discharges. For example, a leak of just one gallon of gasoline can contaminate over 1 million gallons of ground water. For this reason, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection contracts with Lee County to inspect every facility that has a regulated storage tank in order to insure compliance. Each facility is inspected at least once every three years.

 

 


tankstanks

 

​Marine

Derelict or Abandoned Vessel Cases Closed
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Abandoned and derelict vessels are a significant risk to safe navigation, marine ecosystems and waterway aesthetics. The County manages the removal of these vessels from navigable waters. This requires a legal investigation into ownership and removal responsibility. If no responsible party can be determined, the County prioritizes vessels for removal and proper disposal.

 

 

 

boat under the water

According to a 2015 study, Lee County had nearly 45,000 recreational vessels registered, and boating has an economic impact of more than $200 million per year. Maintaining clean and uncluttered waterways is necessary for both safe navigation and environmental protection. The County also maintains navigation devices and encourages boaters to understand regulations and channel systems.

Number of Aids to Navigation Maintained
(Inspected / Repaired / Replaced)
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​Physical markers installed in our local waterways delineate channels, boating safety areas, manatee zones, etc. Lee County maintains more than 2,100 channel markers, signs, and buoys to help keep boaters safe and informed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

​Capital Projects

County Dollars Spent on Water Quality Projects
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Lee County invests local tax revenue to improve water quality in our creeks, bays, rivers and all water ways. Features such as filter marshes, retention/detention facilities, flow-ways, and stream crossings are constructed and maintained to assist in management of our water resources.

Expenditures vary any given year depending on phasing of project such as land acquisition, design/ permitting,  construction and monitoring.  

 

 

Grant Dollars Received for Water Quality Projects
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​Staff works to secure additional funds from State and the Federal agencies to improve water quality in the area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Charts were built using Collabion.

Questions: performance@leegov.com