The city of Venice is upset with me and insists they haven’t dumped any untreated sewage since September of 2017, when Irma hit us. If they truly aren’t allowing any seepage — and I sincerely hope they aren’t — why have their beaches been closed several times over the last few years for too much poo? It could be farther back; my memories aren’t as sharp as they used to be.
I want to take this opportunity to ask them to feel free to contact me directly. I only desire to fix problems, not create new ones. Sarasota has had multiple spills and flows through Venice waterways. Apparently points north are the source of these problems. Stuff flows downstream, and we have problems downstream of them both.
I apologize to Venice and ask them to work together with everyone trying to address the sources and solutions to our nutrient overloads. We all need to take notice they have less than 0.5 percent of their customers on septic systems. This is awesome. They have invested in protecting their city. It’s great to see any city being proactive. Congratulations. Continue to get the word out about your good example. Now, let’s work to stop the influx from your northern neighbor!
Now back to our continued local Lemon Bay algae problems. As regular readers are aware, I’ve been warning everyone who will listen that we have nutrient problems around Lemon Bay. I told you this algae was on the bay bottom and coming up when waters warmed to kill it. It has been a problem for decades, and I’ve attempted to get the water management folks to address it for about 20 years. I can vividly remember asking Dr. David Tamasko to look firsthand and not trust his aerial photos to distinguish grass from algae. No one has taken me up when I invite them to see our mess firsthand.
Some folks are just now having problems because the winds finally blew the stinky mess onto their doorstep. I feel sympathy for them — it stinks, and it’s hard to remove once it blows in. Fort Myers Beach has dealt with for months. It’s the same problem. An overabundance of nutrients fires up an algae bloom, and no one notices it until it’s in their space. At least now they are “looking into it.”
We wonder why we have nutrient overloads. Friday’s Associated Press article in the Sun reported that Orlando had 75 million visitors last year. That’s just Orlando. Now, remember that the Kissimmee River starts at Disney and flows south to Lake Okeechobee. Then the Lake dumps east and west to feed already nutrient-laden coastal waters. Add about another 50 million visitors to the rest of the state and the snowbirds, that’s a lot of stuff to treat and absorb.
About 1,200 gallons of wastewater was recently discharged near (not in!) Venice, according to reports. This spill was just east of Jacaranda on Plantation Golf and Country Club. This is the third incident this month. Sarasota County Commissioners have been told it will take more than $300 million to upgrade the three wastewater treatment plants.
Currently around 238,000 pounds of nitrogen are released from the Bee Ridge facility for irrigation or storage in ponds. If it’s upgraded, the facility will only produce 38,000 pounds. The less produced, the less reaches our waterways. Sarasota County still has about 40,000 septic systems in use; half are within 900 feet of surface waters. This information is from Herald-Tribune articles on May 8 and 10. (Links are on my Facebook page if you want to read them yourself.)
On a much brighter note, the Spanish mackerel and sharks are keeping my clients smiling. It’s nothing like I’m used to, but it’s working. We put a mess of mackerel in the cooler for dinner and then play with sharks. No big ones so far, but there’s plenty of action. I like to see bent rods and smiling clients.
I am hearing about plenty of tarpon pretty much everywhere. The Pass holds fish when the idiots are not chasing them around with their “legal” jigs. I’ve heard many good reports except when the clowns show up at daybreak and start chasing every tarpon they see. Both traditional and beach fishermen are enjoying success when they can fish.
I’m disappointed that some individuals choose to harass our tarpon for profit. Stalking or drift fishing allows our fish to behave naturally and feed. Aggressive behavior disrupts the natural patterns and their reproductive process. The same crews come here to chase fish and make a buck. It’s great marketing on their part, but also killing our local fishery and confusing their clients by making them think this tactic is acceptable. Thankfully, they’ll be gone by July — maybe fish will return to normal patterns then.
If you want big fish and tarpon are too much work to fish, try the sharks. We have all sizes available and they are hungry. Maybe if you catch a few, they will slow down eating the tarpon? Get your big gear ready and have a battle with giants. We’ve had world record sharks caught here around Boca Grande Pass. Don’t kill them — just exercise them a bit and send them back to recover.
Capt. Van Hubbard is a highly respected outdoor writer and fishing guide. He has been a professional USCG-licensed year-round guide since 1976, and has been fishing the Southwest Florida coast since 1981. Contact him at 941-468-4017 or VanHubbard@CaptVan.com.