Save the Towers!

We Started this petition to send a message that the fishing community in SWFL and Florida Keys wants to reef the radio towers offshore of Collier County. This is a monumental step towards preserving the outstanding fishery these towers create. The towers were utilized by the US Air Force as radio transmission towers nearly 50-years ago and are now decommissioned. We ask the Department of Defense to prioritize these towers as artificial reefs instead of removing them and the aquatic life they breed.  We raised over 1000 signatures the first week the petition was live on

For more info and to sign the petition, follow this link!

Sign the petition!

Sign the petition! There are currently 10 storm water outfalls, or pipes, along Naples Beaches. The City of Naples is researching to extend these pipes farther offshore dumping nutrient rich, toxic stormwater on our nearshore reefs. Results would be more dead fish and red tide. CCWK proposes to treat the storm water initially before dumping it offshore into the Gulf. Read more in the petition and sign it! Thank you - CCWK

Naples Wrestling With Runoff Issue

Naples City Council should backtrack on its decision to start planning a new stormwater system that would continue the city's frowned-upon practice of dumping polluted water into the Gulf of Mexico, according to a growing number of locals who advocate for the health of the gulf and the beach.

For decades, the city has dumped runoff, which can contain grass fertilizer and other pollutants, into the gulf through 10 drainage pipes that cross the beach. The Florida Department of Environmental Protection has concerns about the city's drainage process due to erosion and other negative effect on sea habitats.

In August, the council took a half-measure toward fixing the problem by agreeing to pay engineers $281,000 to figure out a way to consolidate the city's drainage pipes and dump the stormwater farther into the gulf, away from the beach. The plan passed by a 4-3 vote and included a strong dissent from City Councilwoman Linda Penniman.

"It would be more than I could stand to vote for this," Penniman said. She later added, "We're going to add injury to insult by letting this godawful stuff go into the water and only add to the pollution."

The council's approval came after members received a presentation on stormwater solutions during an April 2013 workshop. Some of the solutions, including redirection and storage of the runoff, cost more than $10 million.

Council members described their action in August as the most cost-effective solution. But for Penniman, the money would be well spent on other alternatives. In addition to environmental concerns, Penniman said allowing the dumping to continue would also threaten the city's all-important beach tourism industry.

"In my opinion, you're just taking a problem and you're sending it out further," Penniman said this week. "So the problem is only going to get back to us later rather than sooner."

The city says the discussion is ongoing. Engineers will bring preliminary estimates back to the council for further guidance, and a future project could include some water treatment. That presentation is tentatively scheduled for May.

"This looks like the most feasible — that's feasible from a technology, engineering and potential standpoint," Mayor John Sorey said in August.

But the plan doesn't have the support of the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Jennifer Hecker, a conservancy director, told council in August the proposed solution to consolidate the outfalls is "inappropriate" for the city.

"If Naples can't afford to really take care of this problem in a way that is the gold standard solution, then we can't ask other communities who have far less resources to do the same," Hecker said.

The local chapter of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a healthy water advocacy group, created a petition on that asks the city to come up with a plan to reuse the stormwater or route it to a water treatment plant before dumping it. By Thursday night, the petition had close to 350 signatures.

Harrison Langley, head of Collier County Waterkeeper, acknowledged the high cost of his group's request, but said the city's environmental consciousness is such that taxpayers would be willing to pay the price.

"There's enough support," Langley said.

In 2011, the Department of Environmental Protection threatened to withhold beach re-nourishment permits if the city didn't remove its beach outfalls, but later balked when the city promised to limit the outfalls' environmental impacts.

The city has also said it regularly receives complaints about the pipes from beachgoers who report foul discharges and broken pilings. Some residents have called for the pipes' outright removal from the beach because they diminish their quality of life, according to city staff.

In August, City Councilman Sam Saad voted no to consolidating the drainage pipes and acknowledged the city's role in the problem.

"We produce so much of this stormwater runoff because we hardscape concrete and build houses over places that used to be more absorbent," Saad said. "The less of that we allow into the gulf and into the bay, the more that we can reuse ourselves, the better. "

Naples New Years Beach Cleanup

When it comes to thinking globally but acting locally, picking up trash from the beach is as local as it gets.

Collier County Waterkeeper, the recently formed local chapter of the international Waterkeeper Alliance, assembled south of the Naples Pier just after noon, doing their best to make a difference. With fewer than a dozen Waterkeeper volunteers taking up gloves and plastic garbage bags, their numbers were dwarfed by the thousands of sun worshippers who thronged the beach on the summerlike day. But after even more beachgoers showed up the night before to watch the New Year's Eve fireworks display, there was plenty of trash to pick up.

"Altogether, we filled about 20 big garbage bags," said Bill D'Antuono, one of the cleanup's organizers. "We also found things like broken lawn chairs that didn't fit into the bags. There were about 20 of those Chinese lanterns that people were launching into the sky during the fireworks." Prevailing winds pushed them back over the land, and some of the flame-lit and flame-lifted contraptions failed to launch.

The group collected hundreds of beer cans, and more than a few bottles, plus the cardboard containers they came in. Back in the sea grape bushes behind the beach, "there's stuff that's been in there for years," old straw mats, flip flops, and coolers — "things that could be reused."

Some of the items were more unsavory.

"You'd be amazed at what people leave behind. There were dirty diapers, and other things we won't mention," said Jason Brick, one of the volunteers.

Evelyn Birdsall of north Naples read about the cleanup in the newspaper online, she said, and came out to start the New Year off on positive footing.

"I thought this would be a good thing to do for New Year's Day," she said.

Everywhere you looked, people carpeted the beach near the pier. There were so many kids digging in the sand, bronzed volleyball players, tourists taking selfies, and adults sleeping off the night before, that finding the detritus between the bodies could be difficult.

Of course, the first and perhaps most difficult challenge around the pier was finding a place to park. The volunteers reported they had good reactions from beachgoers.

"A lot of people thanked us. Some thought we'd gotten DUIs, and this was our community service," said Waterkeeper Collier Chapter founder Harrison Langley.

"The weirdest thing that was said was someone proposed to my girlfriend Morgan because she was picking up trash," said D'Antuono. She did not accept, he reported.

After doing what they could around the Naples Pier, the group headed up to Lowdermilk Park and did their best to scour the beach there. The volunteers also found some garbage that had already been bagged, but not removed from the beach, which led them to wonder if other groups had also been active in beach cleanups.

A number of organizations do hold regular beach cleanups, including Keep Collier Beautiful, the Friends of Rookery Bay, government-sponsored groups, and the Ocean Conservancy. With all the groups conducting beach cleaning efforts, Langley was asked, why start another one?

"Why? It's still not clean," said Langley. "Waterkeeper is part of a national, and international, group, and we do grassroots advocacy. We want to give a local voice to conservation efforts."

"This is what we have, and it's beautiful. Why trash it?" said D'Antuono.

Nationally, Waterkeeper uses the provisions of the federal Clean Water Act, including water quality standards and citizen suit initiatives, to hold government and industry accountable to reach their goal of "swimmable, drinkable and fishable water." The local chapter has petitioned the City of Naples to develop a plan to reuse or treat stormwater runoff before dumping it into the Gulf of Mexico. They are working to organize a "lionfish derby" on May 29, to remove those toxic exotic fish from local reefs, and plan more beach cleanups in the future.

To learn more or support the work of the Waterkeeper Alliance, a nonprofit organization, go online to

Photo Credit: Dorothy Edwards

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