Yellow Fever Creek/Gator Slough project OK’d
The Lee Board of County Commissioners on Tuesday approved an agreement with the city of Cape Coral for the design and construction of a system to connect Yellow Fever Creek and Gator Slough Canal in northeast Cape Coral.
The decision was unanimous with no discussion by the BOCC in a meeting that took less than an hour. The Cape Coral City Council approved the agreement in January.
The news was met with mutual approval.
“I’m happy to get the project started. The whole point is to restore the historic waterflow into Yellow Fever Creek and improve the water quality flowing into Matlacha Pass and the Caloosahatchee River,” County Commissioner Brian Hamman said.
“I’m happy this has been approved by the Lee County commissioners. We’ve been working on this with county staff for a year or two,” said Jeff Pearson, utilities director for the city. “We believe it’s a win-win project with a lot of environmental positives.”
The project plans include capturing some of the excess flow in the Gator Slough drainage canal and transfer excess storm water to Yellow Fever Creek. The transfer of water will enhance the rehydration of wetlands south of Del Prado Boulevard.
Pearson said the project will also provide more water for the canal system, especially during dry season.
Pearson said there would be a pond on the Conservation 20/20 land at Yellow Fever Creek, where the city is going to build a new park, that will serve as a reservoir where the city can store water and let it settle to naturally cleanse the water along with sunlight.
“Before the water is discharged, it goes through natural treatment and is released through Yellow Fever Creek,” Pearson said. “The water will be in our canals and then pumped underneath Del Prado to the reservoir. There will then be a controlled release into Yellow Fever Creek.”
The nutrients tend to come from stormwater runoff from the roads, lawn fertilizer, pets and other pollutants, into the canals, Pearson said.
Cape Coral and Lee County will each construct and maintain their respective portions of the project. The estimated cost for Lee County’s portion is $2 million, with Cape Coral’s estimated at $1.5 million. The project also received a grant, to deal with increased nutrients in the water from the state in the amount of $175,000, which was approved in 2015.
In 2016, the BOCC approved awarding a contract to AIM Engineering for design and engineering services, and last year approved amendment No. 1 to the FDEP grant, which extended the grant deadline to Dec. 31, 2019.
Design of the project is budgeted in the current fiscal year for Lee County, with construction scheduled for fiscal year 2019-2020.
Cape Coral also has the money budgeted, but has yet to hire an engineer. Once the agreement is signed, the city will finish design on Weir 29, which has been totally permitted.
Jody Sorells, city project manager, said it would be about 24 months before it city could finish the engineering, design and bidding and do the construction.
Hamman said these are the types of projects that need to be done throughout the Lee County watershed to clean up the water that comes from properties and goes into the major waterways.
“There are so many people living here now, and they leave nutrients that flow into the water. The key to clean water is to do projects like this that recreate flow ways that Mother Nature intended,” Hamman said.