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CCP covers wastewater, iguanas and more

By Staff | May 21, 2019

TIFFANY REPECKI Captiva Community Panel Member and Wastewater Committee Chair Jay Brown, left, answers questions about the major findings of the recently completed soil sampling at island homes.

The Captiva Community Panel was updated on a consultant’s supplemental wastewater project and the iguana control pilot program, as well as heard a proposal for the Andy Rosse Lane beach entrance.

At the May 14 meeting, Panel Member and Wastewater Committee Chair Jay Brown reported that a subcontractor hired to collect soil samples at several homes, in order to determine the high water elevation of the water table under the septic systems, has finished the work and the preliminary data.

The panel hired consultant David Tomasko, of Environmental Science Associates, earlier this year to conduct a research project to better understand the current and future levels of need to replace the island’s septics with a central sewer system. The soil sampling was one aspect of the multi-step study.

“He sampled at 43 different locations around Captiva,” Brown said.

He noted that the original plan was to identify 30 homes to volunteer for the sampling.


“It was amazing the level of support I got from the people I called,” Brown said of the owners.

Wanting to leave the details for Tomasko’s final report, he outlined some of the major findings.

“Approximately one-third (of the properties) had less than a 2-foot separation between the drain field and the seasonal high water table,” he said, pointing out that 2 feet is typically considered the minimum needed for proper septic operation. “So, a third of the properties didn’t meet that minimum standard.”

The data showed that bayside properties were more at risk of not meeting the standard.

“Also, we have a very high shell content in the soil,” Brown said.

He explained that shells do not break down effluent as well as other soil types.

“So, a lot of data has been created so far,” Brown said.

Another aspect of the project involved analyzing water samples from the McCarthy’s Marina area and the storm water discharge pipe leading into the Pine Island Sound to look for any human pathogens.

“He found extraordinary amounts of bacteria content,” he said of the water sample results, adding that Tomasko reported it is probably not human. “He said it’s probably plants, plant decay over time.”

Brown noted that Tomasko has a way to determine if the bacteria is traceable to the septics.

“It doesn’t appear that the bacteria is from the septic tanks,” he said.

Tomasko is expected to deliver his final report to the panel in mid- to late summer.

Brown did raise the question for the panel as to whether the property owners who volunteered to participate in the soil sampling should be allowed to know the results of their own property.

After some discussion, the panel voted 10-0 to send out letters to the property owners letting them know who to contact for the results and to give the subcontractor the OK to release the results.

Also at the meeting, Panel Member Dave Jensen gave an update on the iguana program.

He reported that the pilot kicked off on May 7 and that he spent half of the day with Alfredo Fermin, owner of AAA Wildlife Trapping and Removal Services, who was hired for 10 weeks for $5,000.

A total of 20 properties were visited on the first day.

“Alfredo took care of 21 iguanas that day,” Jensen said. “He was expecting maybe two, three, four.”

The largest iguana was about 5 feet long and estimated to be about 15 years old.

“He’s identified some areas where there’s more of them,” Jensen said.

“He’ll be out today,” he added. “He’ll be visiting the same properties and some new ones.”

Jensen noted that any property owner wishing to participate in the pilot program can contact him to register. They will need to provide Fermin with permission to access their property to take part.

“If we don’t get ahold of someone, we just don’t go there (that day),” he said.

To contact Jensen through the panel, visit captivacommunitypanel.com.

President David Mintz reiterated that if the pilot program reveals iguana control services are needed, the panel will prepare a report for Lee County from the data and seek funding to handle the issue.

“What’s really important is we start collecting data on a weekly or monthly basis,” he said.

During the panel’s April meeting, the subject of cleaning up and landscaping the beach entrance on Andy Rosse Lane was raised. A group of residents formed a committee after to come up with options.

At last week’s meeting, Mintz provided an update on what the committee had done.

He explained that it had a rendering drawn up that was shown to Larry Northorp, with Northorp Landscape. He updated the drawing on some dimensions and used plants requiring less maintenance. Northorp offered to prep the site and do the install for $4,897, then maintain it monthly for $90.

“The idea is great,” Vice President Mike Borris, who lives near the area, said.

Treasurer Tom Rathbone suggested reaching out to other island landscapers on the project.

“See if we can’t get the landscapers to contribute to this – have it be a gift to the community,” he said, voicing opposition to the panel paying for it. “I think we should look for other ways to finance this.”

Mintz noted that it is county property and county funds cover trash removal at the area.

“I think the county should pick up the maintenance expense as part of their maintenance,” he said, adding that the panel could also request funds for the install or raise the monies another way.

After some discussion, the panel directed Administrator Ken Gooderham to look into what funding options for the installation and continued upkeep are available and report back on the findings.

“It’d be nice if we could get this done by the fall,” Mintz said.


– The panel voted to send a letter to Gov. Ron DeSantis asking him to veto House Bill 7103. Local attorney Ralf Brookes, a consultant for the panel, brought the idea forward as a discussion item.

– Spurred by the recent cyanobacterial bloom outbreak within the Roosevelt Channel, the panel decided to look into how it can respond to and handle similar short-term events in the future.

– Mintz provided an update on the Captiva Drive walkway project. He reported that the design and engineering of the blueprint, which Johnson Engineering was hired for, is almost ready to begin.