The League of Women Voters kicks off its 2018-19 series of Sanibel luncheon programs with a topic that is high on the list of concerns for every resident and visitor to the island and all environmentally aware people up and down both coasts of Florida.

“Water Currents: Causes, Solutions and Actions Impacting Water Quality” from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 15 will feature an expert panel including John Cassani, Calusa Waterkeeper; James Evans, City of Sanibel Natural Resources Director; and Rae Ann Wessel, Sanibel Captiva Conservation Foundation Natural Resources Policy Director. It’s at Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, 1451 Middle Gulf Dr., and registration is required by noon Monday, Nov. 12.

Panelists will discuss questions, such as who is responsible for water quality, what can be done to improve it and how will the reservoir impact or help water issues and many more. Each panelist has been central to the ongoing dialogue and strategies involving the past and current impacts of red tide and blue-green algae on local and state-wide waterways and wildlife.

John Cassani accepted the position of Calusa Waterkeeper in December 2016, licensed through the Waterkeeper Alliance. John's professional career as an ecologist started in Lee County in 1978 after he received degrees in Biology and Fish and Wildlife. From 1978 to 2014 he worked as a resource manager for local government, managing waterways of southwest Florida. He has authored both peer-reviewed science publications and popular media sources on resource management, history, water policy and conservation issues. John is a courtesy faculty member at FGCU in the Department of Marine and Ecological Sciences with research interests in the areas of exotic species and biodiversity. His service on advisory boards, commitment to community and involvement with land and water conservation has received recognition from various civic groups. Because of his expertise as a fisheries scientist and water manager, he has been sought as a consultant to private industry, government and academia.

James Evans is the Director of Natural Resources for the City of Sanibel, where he has worked as a biologist and resource manager for the past 18 years. He has a B.A. in Environmental Studies and a M.S. in Environmental Science from FGCU. As part of his graduate research, James investigated the influence of freshwater inflow on fish and invertebrates in Estero Bay. Prior to working with City, James was employed by the Center for Environmental Studies, where he monitored tape grass, oysters, and water quality in the Caloosahatchee River and estuary as part of the South Florida Water Management District's Valued Ecosystem Component Study. Most recently, he authored the Caloosahatchee Watershed Regional Water Management issues white paper, a document outlining short- and long-term strategies to address the freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee watershed.

Rae Ann Wessel is the Natural Resources Policy Director for the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation. She is an expert in freshwater and marine ecosystems; a gifted and knowledgeable limnologist (a scientist who studies fresh water bodies) and marine scientist, with more than 30 years of experience working in South Florida on environmental issues and policy. She was instrumental in the formation in 1994 of the non-profit Caloosahatchee River Citizens Association that focuses on improving the ecological health of the River, promoting public awareness of issues affecting the River, and monitoring governmental agencies responsible for management of the River and its watershed. Rae Ann is appointee to the 2020 Conservation Lands Acquisition and Stewardship Committee and has received a number of awards for her environmental work.