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State/city partnership addresses water woes

By Staff | Apr 19, 2018

Issues with drought conditions in Cape Coral are being reformed, thanks to the recently approved Reservoir Pipeline Project.

State Rep. Dane Eagle spear-headed this proposition, filing an appropriations bill for $1,115,000 in state funds, a figure that will be matched by the city.

“The city came to me with this important issue and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto and I worked for two years to get the appropriations bill passed. Water quality and quantity is an important issue for us. The bill was vetoed the first time by Gov. Rick Scott, but we took the time to educate him on why we need this money. The drought last year was a real eye-opener and we hope to be able to have the resources at hand if we were ever again in that situation,” Eagle said.

Last month, Scott signed the state budget which included the city’s Reservoir Pipeline Project.

“We want to thank Gov. Scott for supporting these two important projects, which will provide benefits that extend beyond the City of Cape Coral,” said City Manager John Szerlag. “More importantly, we want to thank our local legislators, Rep. Dane Eagle and Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, who worked on our behalf to ensure these projects were included in the final appropriations bill approved by the Legislature.”

The state funding will be used to engineer, design, and permit a 3.5-mile pipeline from Southwest Aggregates Mining reservoir in south Charlotte County to Gator Slough in northeast Cape Coral.

This will provide a much-needed boost to the freshwater supply that provides irrigation and fire protection in the city.

“Phase 1 of 3 will begin now that we have the funding. The planning and permitting of the pipeline is the first step in getting this project moving, with reservoir construction to follow,” Eagle said.

This project may also benefit the Charlotte Harbor Flatwoods Initiative territory by reducing the flooding in the Cecil M. Webb Wildlife Management area.

Due to the severity of last year’s drought, Cape Coral officials and others are keeping an eye on canal levels during the dry season.

“During this time of year, it is vital that we have enough water for irrigation and fire protection. With brush fires popping up in our area, we need to have the capability and means to protect our community,” added Eagle.

“The canal levels in our freshwater canal system decrease each year during the dry season. These canals along with the city’s reclaimed water system supply water to residents for irrigating their lawns. The supply of irrigation water is much improved from this time last year. Water conservation is important and residents must continue to follow the watering schedule. We are in the peak months of the dry season and should see a more rain in the forecast by the end of May,” city officials said.

The Cape is in much better shape this year, as Canal Volume Trends show 1.2 billion gallons available, as opposed to the .87 billion gallons available this time last year.

Once a firm is selected, design could take up to 18 months to complete. Construction of the pipeline may take up to two years to finish, with costs totaling around $8 million.