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Council provides updates on water quality issues

By Staff | Jun 14, 2017

The mayor shared during last week’s City Council meeting that the governor vetoed two of the island’s projects regarding water quality improvements.

Mayor Kevin Ruane said it has been a tough week for Sanibel with the governor vetoing the Donax Wastewater Treatment Plant and the Jordan Marsh Water Quality Treatment Park.

He said it really came down to the governor looking for money for his own initiatives.

“It was definitely an issue where our first project, the Donax Wastewater Treatment Plant, has been going on for many years,” Ruane said indicating that he talked with many people from the governor’s office that the project is ongoing. “We can certainly submit it next year.”

The City of Sanibel received money last year for the project. He said it was indicated to him that it is rare money is granted two years in a row.

Ruane said he was also reminded with the Jordan Marsh Water Quality Treatment Park that they received $150,000 grant from the Water Management District.

“To receive $150,000 from the state . . . obviously having two state agencies giving to us,” he said is unlikely.

Ruane said after talking with the governor he thought things would have gone differently.

“Visit Florida and some of the initiatives that he wanted, obviously to fund those programs things need to be cut. I don’t have to like what went on, but I understand the rationale behind it. We will certainly come back next year and ask for the Donax Wastewater Plant and we will go back up there and make sure it takes place,” Ruane said.

He said he was supposed to talk with the governor himself later that afternoon to talk about the issues.

“We will certainly keep you abreast at what is going on,” Ruane told the council.

Natural Resources Director James Evans also talked about the concern their legislative consultant shared that morning about money being shifted around for water quality projects.

“There is still some concern that there is money being shifted around for the C43 reservoir,” he said. “The district is looking to shift around $12 million from the C43 reservoir.”

Evans said there is $106 million earmarked for the C43 reservoir budget. He said he is hopeful that the DEP will push back.

“Right now it is earmarked, but that doesn’t mean the district doesn’t have discretion,” Evans said.

Ruane said it is obvious that they are in dire need of water, which is why the C43 is so important.

Council member Chauncey Goss said the irony is not lost if they are going to be advertising something that has dirty water if they do not spend some money on cleaning up the water.

“I hope the governor reconsiders,” he said.

Ruane also discussed a resolution presented by the City of Clewiston for their favoring the retention, storage and treatment of water north of Lake Okeechobee.

“I respect the fact that they sent that. This was a bi-product of a discussion we had a couple of years ago. The result was we put together a compact and tried to come up with a common ground. I’m all in favor of storage north, east, west and south. It’s not necessarily exactly what I would like, but I understand their position and respect it,” Ruane said.

Evans said “it’s not this, or that. It’s this and that.”

“We need storage on all four sides of that lake,” he said. “For a period of time the district was primarily looking at storage north, east and west and forgetting about that southern component.”