Collier and Lee Counties Edition

Calusa Waterkeeper Public Health Alert – Florida Water Summit 2

New Documentary on Harmful Algal Blooms and Panel Discussion

Dr. Larry Brand

Dr. Larry Brand

The Calusa Waterkeeper, once referred to as a scrappy, next-to-no budget, all volunteer nonprofit outfit battling to build public awareness for the beleaguered 67-mile long Caloosahatchee River, is now looking more like a complex organization operating capably through the effective coordination and cooperation of many sophisticated parts.

The reasons for the upgrade might be due to the increased public and media attention being directed to the crisis of harmful algal bloom, microcystin levels and bacterial hotspots in popular Southwest Florida recreational waterways such as the Estero River. There has been an upsurge in the number of individuals signing up to be volunteer Water Rangers trained by biologist John Cassani, the Calusa River’s official Waterkeeper, as well as hundreds of people at the June 24 Waterkeeper Summit and forum that included the screening of the film Toxic Puzzle, which was followed by a panel of experts that addressed the potential harm of algal blooms and took questions from the audience.

A champion for clean water as a human right

It’s also likely that the nonprofit is quickly growing into its full potential under the direction of International businessman and activist K.C. Schulberg, who recently became Calusa Waterkeeper executive director. Schulberg brings his Hollywood pedigree and adds fundraising firepower to the group. More importantly, it could be that Southwest Floridians are finally realizing why they desperately need a champion for protecting clean water as a human right.

August 5 Public Health Alert – Florida Water Summit 2

Adding to its effectiveness at drawing attention to the negative public health effects caused by harmful algal blooms, Calusa Waterkeeper is continuing its series of forums with Public Health Alert – Florida Water Summit 2 on August 5 at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre. The event, a follow-up to the town hall held on June 24, features the world premiere of Troubled Waters, an original documentary produced by Calusa Waterkeeper and a panel of world-renowned scientists and medical professionals.

Filming Dr. Mike Parsons with John Cassani in background

Troubled Waters new Calusa Waterkeeper documentary

The film takes a hyperlocal look at the public health risks associated with harmful algal blooms found in South Florida waterways. It includes interviews with physicians and patients suffering from conditions tied to harmful algal blooms, as well as prominent scientists that present cutting-edge research demonstrating the link between algae exposure and health problems.

Troubled Waters makes it clear that harmful algal blooms are a public health issue that requires action on the local, state and federal levels. This is a can’t-miss event for the public at large and for members of the medical community concerned about what’s in our water here in Southwest Florida,” says Schulberg.

Expert panelists will present latest local research

Many of the scientists interviewed in the film will appear at the August 5 summit as part of a panel discussion following the screening. Among the panelists are Dr. James Metcalf of the Brain Chemistry Lab in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Dr. Walter Bradley, chair emeritus of the University of Miami neurology department; Dr. Larry Brand, a marine biology and ecology professor at the university; Dr. David Davis, a neurology professor at the university; Dr. Malcolm McFarland and epidemiologist Adam Schaefer, of the Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute; emergency room teaching professor Dr. Arthur Diskin; otolaryngologist and surgeon Dr. Robert Zarranz; Waterkeeper Ranger, registered nurse and co-founder of the SWFL Pachamama Alliance chapter Holley Rauen, as well as other professionals.

Important information for healthcare providers

“The combination of the documentary and panel session will present some of the latest local research on the threats presented by harmful algal blooms,” says Cassani. “This event will communicate important information for healthcare providers and the public thanks to the breaking research captured in our documentary.”

Event sponsors include Lee Health, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, Broadway Palm Theatre, CONRIC PR & Marketing and Natural Awakenings. Additional sponsorship opportunities are available. Email Schulberg at to find out how to get involved.

Location: Broadway Palm Theatre, 1380 Colonial Blvd. in Fort Myers. A buffet dinner is included in the $20 ticket price for Public Health Alert – Florida Water Summit 2 on Aug. 5 from 5:30-9 p.m. Proceeds go to the nonprofit Calusa Waterkeeper’s scientific research and educational outreach efforts. Tickets are available at, with a discount for Calusa Waterkeeper members.

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