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January 23, 2003



Mr. Henry Dean, Executive Director

South Florida Water Management District

3301 Gun Club Road

West Palm Beach , Florida 33416-4680



Dear Mr. Dean,


It has come to our attention that the SFWMD is soliciting comments on the MFL Priority List.  Subsequent review of the draft list indicates that the SFWMD will be promulgating a MFL for the Estero River .  The list describes the criteria for potential significant harm as “projecting future increases in withdrawals.”


The Southwest Florida Watershed Council suggests that other tributaries to Estero Bay should also be considered for “priority listing” due to various hydrological alterations resulting from land use changes in their respective watersheds. We suggest that Hendry Creek, Mullock Creek, Spring Creek and the Imperial River be considered for MFL “priority listing.”   These additional tributaries are subject to the same “low” flow conditions as the Estero River .  A review of the USGS gauging station data for flow and stage indicate a need for regulating flows during the dry season.  Periodic hypersaline conditions occur in Estero Bay as a result of flow modifications stemming from overdrainage and wetland loss in the Estero Bay watershed.


The Estero Bay Watershed Assessment (SFWMD 1999) discusses hydrologic alterations as one of the most significant problems impacting the Bay.  Further evidence of flow alterations affecting the salinity of the Bay can be found in annul reports of the Estero Bay Marine Laboratory.  In addition, very high chloride and conductance levels during the dry season for the tributaries mentioned above are indicative of inadequate flow during the dry season.  These data can be found for the tributaries mentioned above on STORET.


Furthermore, Estero Bay and its tributaries are classified as Outstanding Florida Waters and as such, require a higher level of “protection.”  Please include the Southwest Florida Watershed Council on future notifications (including the next draft of the MFL “Priority List”) regarding MFL rule development for water bodies in the Caloosahatchee and Big Cypress Watersheds. 




Michael R. Bauer, J.D., Ph.D.



Copy:  Ms. Carol Wehle, Ms. Trudi Williams


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