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CCP seeking feedback on septic-sewer issue

By Staff | Mar 31, 2020

Panel Member Jay Brown

The Captiva Community Panel is asking for input from property owners outside of the South Seas Island Resort on converting from septic systems to sewers in a recently released straw poll.

The panel has tapped its database of islander emails and the island’s mailing addresses to ask the community through an email blast and mailers sent out for its opinion on switching to a central sewer system. The aim is to gauge the level of support for sewer before the panel proceeds any further.

The deadline for residential and commercial property owners to reply is April 7.

“We have probably found out as much as we can about what a central sewer system would look like,” Panel Member and Wastewater Committee Chair Jay Brown said of the over two years of research. “The best overall way to do it – and we’ve got a pretty good ballpark estimate of what it would cost.”

Concern within the community for the island’s continued reliance on septics sparked the project.

“The panel routinely surveys the Captiva community to try to find out what are issues that people are concerned about and what they’d like to see the panel work on,” he said. “That’s what started it.”

Based on the culmination of its research, the panel determined that it would cost an estimated $16 million to tie into the city of Sanibel’s system and construct a new main sewer line with the necessary lift stations. In addition, there would be costs to individual property owners on Captiva to access the Sanibel system, to connect residences to the new system and to shut down existing septic systems.

One-time costs – the sewer line, access fees, property hookups, and septic removals – could be funded by a municipal taxing authority approved by a majority of property owners in the new service area. Residential property owners would be assessed an estimated average of $2,000 per year over 30 years, with commercial owners being assessed on the basis of their share of wastewater processed.

In addition, residential property owners would pay about $800 annually for waste processing if estimated per-property costs assume an equal cost sharing by all of the residential owners.

Brown reiterated that a system and taxing authority will require majority approval.

“And if we’re going to seriously pursue outside public funding, we have to have a strong commitment or statement of community will that they are interested in a capital project of this size,” he added.

The poll aims to gauge that before moving forward with feasibility and engineering.

Brown noted that responses from those outside of South Seas are only being sought.

“South Seas is already serviced by a central sewer system, which is FGUA,” he said.

As of March 26, the panel was already hearing from the community.

“I think we’ve gotten something like 100 responses to it, which is really surprising to me,” Brown said of the poll, noting that the coronavirus has understandably been at the forefront of people’s minds.

On the poll, respondents are asked three questions:

– What best expresses your current opinion about providing central sewer service to all areas of Captiva outside of South Seas? (with a range of one for strongly favor to five for strongly disagree)

– If the project cost could be reduced significantly by obtaining government financial support for the project, would that change your opinion? (yes or no)

– Which best describes the location of your property? (Gold Coast, Roosevelt Channel, ‘Tween Waters, Village)

Respondents can also provide any comments about a possible sewer program.

Included with the poll is an overview of the background and history of the panel’s work on the wastewater alternatives project since its inception, plus a two-page summary of its findings.

“It describes the cost of central sewer, what the basic plan would be – which is partnering up with Sanibel – how it would work, research finds on environmental and health impacts,” he said.

Property owners can respond to the email, mailing or online at captivacommunitypanel.com.

Visitors to the panel’s Website can access additional information, including the final report by consultant David Tomasko of Environmental Science Associates, a paper by the Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation on its views, and the county-funded TKW study completed in 2018.

“If they want to study it in detail,” Brown said of the material.

The community is encouraged to respond before the deadline.

“We’re hoping to get good feedback from the public, based on what we know so far,” he said.

“Is there enough support for this to move on to detailed engineering? Should we be moving forward with trying to get public assistance?” Brown asked. “Is there enough support on Captiva for this?”

For more information or to take the poll, visit captivacommunitypanel.com.

For questions, contact Jay Brown at jaywbrown1@icloud.com.