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City shares water quality legislative priorities

By Staff | Oct 26, 2017

Last week Vice Mayor Mick Denham attended the Lee County Legislative Delegation to present the city’s legislative priorities for water quality, and water quantity projects regionally and locally.

The presentation Denham provided, on behalf of Mayor Kevin Ruane, focused on restoring appropriate freshwater flows to the Caloosahatchee and improving the quality of Sanibel’s coastal waterways.

Denham presented three regional projects.

The C-43 Reservoir Project was on the top of the list. The city is requesting $100 million in funding for the South Florida Water Management District to keep it on schedule with the Integrated Delivery Schedule. The city also requested that the district begins planning and designing a water quality treatment component for the reservoir.

The project is designed to store up to 170,000 acre-feet of water within the Caloosahatchee watershed, which would help meet the existing minimum flow and level for the river 80 percent of the time. According to the city, the estimated cost is $500 million and under the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan, the federal government will match state money expended on CERP projects. In other words, funding allocated by the state towards construction of the C-43 reservoir will be matched by the federal government for the implementation of other Everglades restoration projects.

The second request was to dedicate $50 million in funding towards phase II construction of the Lake Hicpochee Restoration Project, which would address the storm water runoff in the eastern Caloosahatchee watershed.

The 2016 legislative session resulted in the Florida Legislature allocating $16.9 million to purchase an additional 2,454 acres of land on the north side of Lake Hicpochee. The land will be used as flow equalization basin, according to the city, and be used to store and treat water from the C-19 basis to help restore freshwater flows to Lake Hicpochee and the eastern Caloosahatchee sub-basin.

The final regional request was for GS-10 Caloosahatchee Cross Link Project for the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services Improvement District. This project would provide additional water storage and treatment within the watershed with the potential of incorporating it into a treatment component for the C-43 Reservoir Project.

According to the city, this project establishes a connection between Lee County owned lands and the Lehigh Acres-Municipal Services Improvement District drainage system, which includes multiple outfalls into the Caloosahatchee River.

The estimated cost for the project design and permits is $750,000.

As far as local funding requests, Denham spoke about the City’s Donax Wastewater Reclamation Facility, so the city can advance wastewater treatment. The upgrade would result in the reduction of nutrient concentrations in reuse water provided to golf courses and residential properties by 50 percent.

The legislative request was for $2 million with a local match of $3,618,600.

Denham is also asking for the community’s support with the city’s request. He encourages residents to write their local representatives and participate in the conversation.

“We would like their help and support,” Denham said.