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County approves NFM water quality project

By Staff | Apr 15, 2020

The Lee Board of County Commis-sioners last week voted to move forward with several projects to improve water quality and lessen the chance of stormwater flooding in Lee County.

One of those projects is in North Fort Myers, where the board accepted a grant from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for the FPL Powerline Easement Water Quality Project in the amount of $47,798.19, which is basically the extension of an unused funds from a previous grant.

The grant will reimburse the county for expenses related to further due diligence concerning project feasibility, design plans, land surveying, updated nutrient removal calculations, and model simulations of the expected results.

“We’ve had great success getting the state to help fund our water projects over the past several years, and one of the ways we’ve done this is we own the land and are willing to put in 50 percent of the cash,” Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman said. “We’re also providing shovel-ready projects, which are feasible to clean up the water.”

The goal of the project is to improve the quality of water flowing from the Stroud and Palm Creek watersheds into the Caloosahatchee River, which has a Total Maximum Daily Load for nitrogen, and is currently subject to a State of Florida Basin Management Action Plan.

The project has been in the making for four years. In April 2016, the county accepted an FDEP grant for $200,000 for a feasibility study of the area. The following month, the board approved a contract with Waldrop Engineering to conduct a feasibility study in the amount of $190,300.

The cost of the feasibility study was $152,201.81, which left a grant balance of $47,798.19, which was to have expired last December. Lee County requested FDEP consider allocating the remaining balance to Lee County in the form of a new grant, to which the agency agreed.

Located on and/or adjacent to the FPL transmission line, in North Fort Myers, potential project sites include parcels at the vicinity of the FPL easement which runs near the north end of Nalle Road and flows to the Caloosahatchee River.

If it is found to be feasible, the proposed project would include a bypass system which would hydraulically re-establish watersheds along the corridor to improve flooding and water quality conditions during the rainy season and provide base flows to the watersheds during the dry season.

The project would reconnect flow ways within Pop Ash Creek Preserve at the north end of the project footprint to the Caloosahatchee Creeks Preserve at the south end terminating at the Caloosahatchee River, an analysis on the project stated.

“This would recreate wetlands and rehydrate preserves along the way which had better water flows in the past,” Hamman said. “This is part of our long-term strategy to make sure we’re not contributing to the problems we’ve seen in the river.”

Under the grant, Lee County will prepare an addendum to the original Lee County FPL Powerline Easement Water Quality Improvement Project report.

The report addendum will consist of 30 percent design plans, updated nutrient removal calculations, opinion of probable construction costs, and detailed modeling and simulations of the five-, 25-, and 100-year design storm plans for the Lower Palm, Upper Palm and Upper Stroud water quality project sites.