The Caloosahatchee River is an estuary that extends from the Gulf of Mexico to Lake Okeechobee 70 miles inland. It is surrounded by a watershed that has many streams and tributaries that feed into the river. The Caloosahatchee has a long history of being a living and hunting area for Calusa Indians for several hundred years. It served as a vital waterway for humans as well as an important habitat for wildlife and fish. It was once a curving and meandering waterway much like the Kissimmee River but was changed and straightened into a canal in the late 1800’s. It was dredged and straightened into a canal so that it could be used for navigational traffic for boats, irrigation for farms and flood protection. The river was connected to Lake Okeechobee and also serves as a waterway for passage of boats to the east coast of Florida. The altering of the river and the large influx of people who built homes and farms along the river has had some harmful effects to the quality of water in the estuary. The river today supports the irrigation and water supplies for citrus and sugarcane farming, beef cattle production and drinking water supplies for humans. The water quality of the river has been unfortunately degraded from the storm water runoff containing pollutants, excess nitrogen and nutrients and animal and human wastes. It has been the subject of many complaints from concerned citizens and environmentalists who want to preserve and protect the estuary. Fresh water releases from Lake Okeechobee to prevent the lake from overflowing it’s banks has adversely affected water quality in the river as well. There are several government agencies who are responsible for the health and protection of the Caloosahatchee including the South Florida Water Management District, Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corp. of Engineers. The towns of Ft. Myers, Cape Coral, Lehigh Acres, LaBelle, Moore Haven and Clewiston lie along the banks of the river. The estates of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford are located along the river in Ft. Myers. A few websites which contain historical and cultural information about the river are Protecting Our Water, and Florida Sportsman. The South Florida Water Management District contains updated information about their efforts to protect the water quality of the Caloosahatchee. The pictures in this post were taken on a calm day with clear and sunny skies. I was standing on the north side of the river at the north end of the Caloosahatchee bridge where there is a small pier and a sailing club. A lot of people come here to park, walk along the edges of the water and relax in a very scenic environment.
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