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Mayor meets with Rubio rep on water issues

By Staff | Aug 3, 2018

Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello says the city needs help getting businesses affected by the historic algal bloom sliming city canals back on track.

To that end, Coviello met with a representative from U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio’s office on Thursday to discuss the toxic blue-green algae blooming shore-to-shore in the Caloosahatchee and Cape waterways, killing fish and leaving a lingering stench.

Coviello brought the representative to some of the areas targeted by the city and Lee County as the worst affected.

“Not only was the algae thick, but smelly. We are looking forward to the senator’s support. He is looking for some things to do from a funding standpoint that could get us some reimbursement for some of the businesses in the area,” Coviello said. “I wanted to spend time with them so they understood our plight.”

Coviello also spoke Thursday with Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman regarding potential areas of cleanup. The mayor said that while Hamman mentioned cleanup would start on Wednesday, it could also start as early as today.

Coviello also spoke earlier this week with the Southwest Coalition of Mayors, made up of all the county’s mayors, which will seek an extension to state of emergency declared by Gov. Rick Scott July 9 in response to the algal blooms.

The request is expected to be made Tuesday morning at the Lee County Board of County Commissioners meeting.

Scott issued the executive order for Glades, Hendry, Lee, Martin, Okeechobee, Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties to combat the blooms with $3 million in DEP funding.

Lee County has secured $700,000 from the Florida Harmful Algal Bloom Management Grant Program through the Department of Environmental Protection for the removal, processing and disposal of algae from select sites in unincorporated Lee County and affected municipalities, most notably Cape Coral.

There are no city funds dedicated to the blue-green algae situation in the proposed fiscal year 2019 budget, according to Connie Barron, city spokesperson.

County Manager Roger Desjarlais warned that the cleanup is a test project, a fact reiterated by Barron, who added the grant money won’t go very far and that the method to collect the algae isn’t exactly proven.

“Once they collect the algae from the water there are issues regarding the disposal of it. That issue has not been resolved. Until there is concrete evidence there are treatment methods that are effective and cost-efficient, we wouldn’t know what to budget for it,” Barron said.