Latest Florida Chamber of Commerce Water Education Video Highlights Caloosahatchee River

Collaborative Effort with FAU Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Focuses on Science-Based Research Solutions


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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (May 17, 2018) – Strengthening efforts to secure Florida’s water future, the Florida Chamber of Commerce today is releasing the latest in a series of water education videos demonstrating the importance of following science-based research solutions.

Securing Florida’s Water Future: Caloosahatchee River features research produced by Florida Atlantic University – Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute Research Professor Dr. Brian LaPointe. Despite recent impacts of heavy rainfall and fresh water discharges, strategies are underway to improve the health of this natural resource located on the southwest Gulf Coast of Florida.

Securing Florida’s Water Future: Caloosahatchee River features the following environmental and business leaders:

  • Drew Bartlett, Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  • Ernie Barnett, Executive Director, Florida Land Council
  • Roland Ottolini, P.E., Director, Natural Resources Division, Lee County Board of County Commissioners
  • Colleen Depasquale, Executive Director, Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce


Manmade changes to the Caloosahatchee River and its watershed have altered the hydrology of the region. Heavy rainfall often results in large influxes of freshwater runoff from Lake Okeechobee and the local basin. In order to address local basin issues, stakeholders and government agencies are working on other strategies to improve the health of the Caloosahatchee Estuary.


What Environmental Leaders Are Saying:

“Agriculture, residential and cities, urban runoff is adding nutrient loads that have exceeded the capability of the system. Lee County also has numerous septic tanks and we want to move forward and see where opportunities exist to put those folks onto a centralized sewer system.” – ROLAND OTTOLINI, P.E., Director, Natural Resources Division, Lee County Board of County Commissioners


“A typical septic tank will put out about 60 milligrams per liter of nitrogen through a drain field, we’re trying to get one or less into the estuary. We absolutely have to deal with the septic systems, get them out of the ground for this pollution. But how can we make sure it’s successful? And that’s by bringing state level funding to try to offset the homeowner costs so a utility can make the investment to run the line and we can get people to abandon their septic tanks.” – DREW BARTLETT, Deputy Secretary for Water Policy and Ecosystem Restoration, Florida Department of Environmental Protection


This is the eighth in a series of water research educational videos. Previous videos include:

  • Kissimmee River Restoration Project
  • Kissimmee River & Tributaries North of Lake Okeechobee
  • Lucie Estuary
  • Springs
  • Southwest Florida
  • The Florida Keys
  • Indian River Lagoon


“When it comes to securing Florida’s future, there are few issues more important than water,” said MARK WILSON, President and CEO of the Florida Chamber. “With six million more people expected to call Florida home by 2030, science-based data is key to meeting the challenges Florida faces.”

Click here to view the complete series or visit


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The Florida Chamber of Commerce is the voice of business and the state’s largest federation of employers, chambers of commerce and associations, aggressively representing small and large businesses from every industry and every region. The Florida Chamber works within all branches of government to affect those changes set forth in the annual Florida Business Agenda, and which are seen as critical to secure Florida’s future. The Florida Chamber works closely with its Political Operations and the Florida Chamber Foundation. Visit for more information.

Rep. Gayle Harrell Discusses Florida’s Environment

“We are devastated by the releases from Lake Okeechobee.”

-Representative Gayle Harrell

Florida’s precious natural resources are just one reason why six million more people will call our state home between now and 2030. In the latest edition of The Florida Chamber’s Bottom Line, Rep. Gayle Harrell address Legacy Florida, a bill that helps preserve the Everglades, as well as the impact runoff and septic tanks have on our environment, businesses and economy.

“We are devastated by the releases from Lake Okeechobee…it is just devastating to our economy and our small business people.”

Learn what the Florida Chamber’s partnership with FAU to educate Floridians on the impact of septic tanks:

Dr. Brian Lapointe Stresses Scientific Approach to Water Issues

“To secure Florida’s future, we really have to follow science; science has to lead the way.”

Dr. Brian Lapointe, Research Professor, Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute

Dr. Brian Lapointe is partnering with the Florida Chamber as part of its ongoing educational efforts to help secure Florida’s water future.

“I’ve been studying issues surrounding marine pollution and various land-based sources that contribute to the problems we’re seeing around the state,” said Dr. Lapointe. “This is a whole new paragon shift for me, to take what I’ve learned over 30 years and educate the public about these issues, and they’re big issues.”

Dr. Lapointe says that many of the main sources of pollution are not realized by the public. For example, Dr. Lapointe identifies septic tanks as being a major source of pollution in Florida that people do not recognize as harmful.

“We have so many opinions around the state as to the various factors that may be causing things like the brown tide in the Indian River Lagoon, or the problems were seeing in the St. Lucie estuary or Florida Bay,” said Dr. Lapointe. “But, it really comes back to not using political or expedient solutions to these problems, which can often times make the problems worse. It is really looking at cause and effect and we really need to use the best science available to find out the causes of these problems.”

The campaign to educate Floridians on Florida water resources and issues, led by the Florida Chamber, FAU Harbor Branch, and Dr. Lapointe, places importance on finding a science-based set of solutions to water quality issues.

“A big issue for Florida is protecting the quality of our water because we have very sensitive resources here that are the attraction for tourists,” said Dr. Lapointe. “The Indian River lagoon… this is a place, clearly, that is being impacted by pollution from the water shed that, obviously, we need to get that system in recovery and use science to do it to protect the economic well being of that region.”

Economies across the state rely on water, an abundant resource in Florida. As Dr. Lapointe mentions, water issues affect these areas economically and scientific steps need to be taken to prevent and counteract this side-effect of water pollution.

 “These things are all doable if we use science to lead the way,” said Dr. Lapointe.

Strong Tech Job Creation Fueled by Florida’s Pro-Business Climate

By Andrew Duffell

President & CEO, Research Park at Florida Atlantic University


As reported last month in the Tampa Bay Business Journal, the first six months of 2014 saw more tech job creation than all of 2013, and this success isn’t just a number. This number translates to additional high-wage jobs, economic development and strong entrepreneurial spirit for the Sunshine State. Groups like Enterprise Florida and the Florida Chamber have been championing this effort for more than a decade. We must now work to continue this momentum so our state can continue to move in the right direction.

Florida’s business-friendly climate allows diverse tech companies a chance to thrive in a pro-jobs environment. In fact, the 2014 Inc. 5000 list, which profiles the fastest growing private companies in the U.S., contains more than 300 Florida businesses- many of which are tech companies. Our state must keep recruiting companies like Fortinet, based in Plantation, and foster the entrepreneurial spirit in startups such as Modernizing Medicine, a cloud-based electronic medical records company in the Research Park at Florida Atlantic University.

Currently, Florida imports more talent than it develops, and with businesses in the tech-sector growing at a faster pace than before, we must work hard to be able to meet Florida’s demand by ensuring our students receive the right kind of critical-thinking education and training that will make students career-ready upon graduation. We must also continue our efforts to fuel passions in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) related careers. Otherwise, the momentum we’ve created might be lost. Initiatives, such as the Targeted Educational Attainment (TEAm) program between Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Palm Beach State College (PBSC) and Broward College (BC), are just one way to secure Florida’s tech job future. The TEAm initiative is part of an ambitious effort to align university and college degrees with the state’s future workforce needs. In this program students are recruited to join STEM fields in high school, and then study at PBSC or BC and transfer seamlessly to FAU. Our colleges and universities are pulling large grants, but we still have work to do. Even as Florida passes New York as the third most populous state, we rank No. 39 in federal research funding. We have the people, we have the infrastructure and we have the creativity so now it’s time to perform if we want to continue to see record tech job creation.