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CCP gets updates on wastewater, iguanas and more

By Staff | Oct 15, 2019

TIFFANY REPECKI Captiva Community Panel Member Jay Brown, second from left, discuss the latest supplemental wastewater research update with the rest of the panel at its monthly meeting on Oct. 8.

The Captiva Community Panel was provided an update on the near-completion of the supplemental wastewater research project, plus received information about the island’s iguana control service.

At the Oct. 8 meeting, Panel Member and Wastewater Committee Chair Jay Brown reported that consultant David Tomasko, of Environmental Science Associates, is expected to have his final report completed by Nov. 1 for review and presentation. He was hired to identify the benefits and risks of Captiva maintaining its septic reliance and practices versus some form of a central sewer system.

A preliminary draft of his findings was reviewed by the Wastewater Committee, members of the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation and Sanibel Natural Resource Director James Evans. The group in turn provided Tomasko with some comments to consider when drafting the final report.

He will present his report to the panel in November, with a town hall set for January.

The panel will utilize Tomasko’s findings, along with the county-funded TKW study on wastewater alternatives, to decide whether to recommend to the public a different approach on wastewater.

Brown reported that Tomasko found the existing septics are not an immediate threat.

“His main concern with our septic systems is that as we have sea-level rise in the future, they’re going to begin to fail and become unworkable over time,” he said.

Tomasko also discovered many systems have an inadequate amount of space between the drain field and underlying water table and many are on lots not permissible to sustain them, Brown added.

Within his final report, Tomasko will address the option of joining the city of Sanibel’s existing wastewater system. Brown pointed out that the bulk of the risk with the existing reliance on septics lies in the Village, so Tomasko also will address establishing a collection system solely in that area.

“But, that’s not to say there’s no risk outside of the Village,” he added.

However, a Village system would be a smaller project than the whole island.

The treatment could be handled by the FGUA facility at South Seas Island Resort.

“They’re developing estimates now of what their cost might be,” Brown said.

Sanibel’s annual fee may be about $880 compared to $100 for FGUA.

“But, we have to ensure that’s a viable plan long term,” he added, referring to the operation of the facility and rising sea levels. “We’re going to have alternatives to look at (within the report).”


Administrator Ken Gooderham reported that President David Mintz has been working with county officials to have Lee County cover the cost of the service, while a Municipal Service Taxing Unit or MSTU is set up and presented to island property owners for approval to fund the trapping program.

On Oct. 1, the Lee County Commissioners approved waiving the formal procurement process and paying for the panel’s trapper – Alfredo Fermin, of AAA Wildlife Trapping and Removal Services – through Sept. 30. It also approved waiving the informal petition process for creating a new MSTU.

According to county documents, the passing vote “allows Lee County staff to create and distribute formal petitions to create a new MSTU, with the purpose of controlling the population of green iguana and other invasive fauna species on Captiva” and “allows for current trapping services to continue uninterrupted until an MSTU is established.”

“So a year’s worth of trapping has been paid for,” Gooderham said.

He added that Fermin was back on the island on Sept. 17 tracking and catching iguanas.

As for creating the MSTU, it will require 50 percent plus one for a passing vote.


The nominating committee works on fulfilling vacant seats appointed by the panel. Panel Member Bob Walter is termed out, and Panel Member Dave Jensen recently resigned from his seat to move to Italy.

Gooderham reported to the panel that three people had expressed interest in the open seats – Tony Lapi, John Jensen and Linda Laird. Unaware Laird was going to throw her hat into the ring as an option, the committee had recommended Lapi for Walter’s seat and Jensen for his brother’s old seat.

The panel will vote on Walter’s replacement at the December meeting.

He noted that interested applicants can still apply by November.

As for Jensen’s seat, the panel decided to close accepting applicants and will vote at next month’s meeting on whether Jensen or Laird will occupy the seat. Several said it will be a tough choice.

In addition, Ann Brady will fill one of the seats on the panel reserved for Captiva Civic Association representatives. She will take up the seat of Treasurer Tom Rathbone, who recently passed away. Panel Members Mike Kelly and Mike Lanigan are expected to retain their seats and represent the CPOA.


– It was announced that a Celebration of Life Service will be held Nov. 14 at 5 p.m. at the Captiva Civic Association, at 11550 Chapin Lane, for Rathbone. Thomas Arthur Rathbone died Sept. 21 after a four-month battle with cancer. RSVPs to attend go to Merni Libonate at withfeathers1@icloud.com.

At the meeting, the panel held a moment of silence for Rathbone.

– The panel voted 5-0 to allow for Captiva to be included in a Florida Department of Environmental Protection grant request that Sanibel intends to submit to be used toward sea-level rise modeling.

– The permits have been submitted for the Andy Rosse Lane beach access project.

– Work continues on finalizing the blueprint for the Captiva Drive improvements.

The next panel meeting is set for Nov. 12 at 9 a.m. at the South Seas Island Resort.