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September 7, 2018
By JOYCE COMINGORE - Garden Club of Cape Coral ( , Cape Coral Daily Breeze

Our green canals were beneficial to our local police last Saturday. A fleeing suspect dived into a local canal, as errant alleged criminals do. After swallowing green algae, the poor guy needed help getting out.

After hosing him off, he was sent to the hospital, then jail. Other than that plus, green canals are mainly a minus, a detriment to our health, the smell of and breathing fresh air, clean boat passageways, valuing and selling our properties.

The first meeting of SWAG SWFL (Safe Water Advocacy Group of South West Florida, not to be confused with South West Advocacy Group) gathered interested constituents in a "brainstorming" session on Friday, Aug. 31, at Rotary Park, to determine what, if anything, we could do as citizens to help with our current environmental disaster, the red tide and green algae. Mary Ann Parsons was forming a group to analyze what citizens felt they could do about the effects of current circumstances. Every idea was encouraged, quantity not quality was sought. It was to encourage wild ideas, that can often give rise to creative leaps. To gather hope from these meetings.

After viewing a 2-minute video on red tide by Dr. Larry Brand, about how to redirect the water south to the Everglades, not east and west as is now being done, ideas were put forth on how we could effectively combat our problem. Our next meeting on Sept. 12, at 1 p.m. at Rotary Park, will address which of these ideas we can realistically pursue. It was felt that Cape Coral could take the lead in this endeavor, then, reach out to other SWFL cities and counties.

Committees were named for all to sign up, then passed around, and we signed up. More education of the fertilizer ordinance, strengthen and revise it, maybe adding pesticides; we need to make awareness of the "Don't Feed the Monster," and "Be Floridian" campaign, no nitrogen in fertilizer from June 1 to Sept. 30. The ordinances are now being encouraged but not required. It must begin with us. We must think of our own personal pollution habits and set a good example. Do coalition building and maybe asking retailers to be aware of and help in not selling fertilizers during rainy season, from June 1 until Nov. 30, where and when its runoff creates the problem. It was recognized that the nitrogen in our irrigation water is adding to the problem. An awareness that humans have a lot to do with it, is needed. Coalition building, reach out to wildlife organizations, educate, networking were set forth as needs to be met. Committees formed are Market and Research Communication, Lobbying (PAC) & Advocate - ordinance change/lobby committee/CEU, Wildlife Action Committee, Rehabber - Coalitions - Petitions and pledges, Fundraisers - Stakeholders.

I remember a favorite comic strip in 1948 to 1975, Pogo, said, "We have met the enemy, and he is us," a saying taken from a poster of the day. Our good ol' Okefenokee Swamp was where it was happening. Anyone unaware of Pogo, Google him. I have been told that my choice in musical titles betrays my age, this should be a dead give-away.

A follow-up meeting was set for 1-3 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 12, at Rotary Park, to formalize ideas and continue comments on how to combat this devastating situation. Hopefully, the rains and winds will help to blow it away, but it doesn't stay away without help, the problem is hanging around, waiting to rise again. If you are interested in observing or would like to contribute, feel free to join us.

My Manatee calendar tells me that today, Sept. 7, is National Manatee Day. This situation is life or death to them, help. Be aware of the dangers of nitrogen run-off and do something. I see where a Naples resident is calling for stricter rules for fertilizer use during our rainy season. Wanda Klopf says, "The animals - they're the first to let us know - 'man, hey, we die, you die.'" Kinda' like the canary in the mines. How many fish and manatee need to die before we do something. They've been shouting loud and clear.

Upcoming events mentioned were the Climate National March on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 2 pm, in Centennial Park. (tomorrow).

Toxic Puzzle documentary viewing will be Sept. 22 at the Cape Coral Public Library 2-5 p.m. No cost.

Joyce Comingore is a Master Gardener, hibiscus enthusiast and member of the Garden Club of Cape Coral.



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