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CCP covers sea-level rise report, sewer study and no wake signs

By Staff | Jun 16, 2020

PHOTO PROVIDED Area potentially affected by 1-foot increments up to 10 feet of sea level rise.

The Captiva Community Panel was presented with the findings from a sea-level rise vulnerability assessment at its recent meeting, as well as heard updates on a comprehensive engineering study for a possible central sewer system and ways to reinstall manatee zone signs in the Roosevelt Channel.

On June 9, CCP Sea Level Rise Committee Chair Linda Laird was joined by consultant Dr. Cheryl Hapke, with Coastal Science Solutions, in presenting the completed resiliency assessment for Captiva.

“I’m very very impressed with the report,” Laird said, explaining that it encompasses what will be impacted and affected based on the different levels of sea rise the island is anticipated to see.

For the assessment, the “vulnerabilities to different community sectors from projected impacts of average daily tidal inundation (tide chart elevation of 1.32 feet) and sea-level rise” were evaluated. The results are intended to be a first step toward developing an adaptation approach for the community.

Key findings are that the most probable threshold for severe impact to infrastructure and roads is either a coastal flood advisory after there is 2 feet of sea-level rise or 4 feet with daily high tide conditions.

PHOTO PROVIDED Structures potentially affected up to 7 feet of sea level rise.

According to the report, current conditions include:

– Flooding associated with a coastal flood advisory warning approximates 2 feet of sea-level rise.

– Flooding associated with a Category 1 hurricane approximates 7-8 feet of sea-level rise.

– With present-day water levels, six structures may be affected by tidal flooding. They could be categorized as boat houses, or homes built on stilts or directly adjacent to sea walls.

The assessment notes that at 1 foot of sea-level rise – years 2030 to 2050 – low-lying bayfront development becomes impacted by tidal inundation. This may affect 13 structures, including structures associated with the utilities for the South Seas Island Resort and the lodging at the ‘Tween Waters.

PHOTO PROVIDED Transportation infrastructure potentially affected up to 7 feet of sea level rise.

At 2 feet – years 2055 to 2080 – the impact to low-lying bayfront development escalates. It may affect as many as 94 structures, including the wastewater treatment plant for SSIR and the majority of structures in central Captiva north of Captiva Drive, including McCarthy’s Marina, Jensen’s Twin Palm Cottages and Resort, and a restaurant. Utility infrastructure for the SSIR, including a communications tower, are also affected. In addition, road access along South Seas Plantation Road north of Chadwick Bayou may become problematic with intermittent areas of flooding.

It goes on to project the impact of 4 feet of sea-level rise – 2075 to 2100s – and 7 feet for 2100s to 2150s. At the 7-foot mark, the report points out that what remains of Captiva “may no longer be habitable without dramatic protect and accommodate efforts including elevating roads, utilities, and other infrastructure.”

“We took the best information we had,” Laird said of compiling the assessment.

She explained that the Sea Level Rise Committee has been working on informal solutions to the problems outlined by the report and that modeling assessments will be part of its next steps.

“There are some funds available to help us with solutions, there are some funds available to help us with an analysis of the solutions,” Laird said.

PHOTO PROVIDED Critical facilities potentially affected up to 7 feet of sea level rise.

In its conclusion, the assessment notes that there are a variety of sea-level rise adaptation strategies available, which fall into categories such as “do nothing, protect, accommodate and retreat.” These can be factored into discussions as the community begins to develop adaptation pathways for the island.

President David Mintz drew attention to the fact that the information dovetails with the work of the Wastewater Committee, as island septic systems will stop working within 30 years with 1 foot of sea-level rise.

“It’s very important that we begin to meet with our island water people, LCEC and South Seas,” he added. “So that when 2050 comes along, we’re prepared.”

WASTEWATER COMMITTEE

Panel Member and Wastewater Committee Chair Jay Brown provided an update on his attempts to secure a more comprehensive engineering plan for a possible central sewer system for all of the island, except for those within the SSIR area as the Florida Governmental Utility Authority services them.

He explained that developing a specific plan will enable the community to see key elements of the potential system, such as if a lift station will be required in one’s yard; allow the engineer to outline the construction progress in more detail, such as any possible disruptions to the island or individuals; and provide a better estimate of the project’s costs, versus the $16 million “ballpark” figure being used.

“We need a detailed engineering study,” Brown said.

He reported that he contacted Lee County about funding the comprehensive report, to which officials replied that financial support will not be available any time soon due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At least not over the next several months,” Brown said.

He told the panel that he also contacted a consultant about locating other possible avenues of funding for the study. The consultant reviewed the information collected to-date by the committee and what it is seeking in terms of the comprehensive study, reporting back that there are not many options available.

The consultant added that the best avenue would be government funding, like from the county.

“I think we’re kind of at a roadblock for finding funding for this study,” Brown said.

The estimated cost for the study is $200,000.

MANATEE NO WAKE ZONE

Mintz provided an update on what options are available to the CCP to push for the reinstallation of manatee no wake zone signs in the Roosevelt Channel. The signs were recently taken down across Lee County after the state found that they were inconsistent with its rules when the county put them up.

Since the removal of the Roosevelt signs, the Captiva community has raised concerns.

“It’s a very narrow area,” Mintz said, adding that allowing boats to speed through the area is not good for erosion and docks, not good for the manatees, and not good for the safety of kayakers.

He told the panel that he spoke with state officials, who explained that there is a “long process” by which it can re-evaluate the channel as a manatee zone. If approved, the signs could go back up.

“But in speaking with the state – there’s another way to skin this cat,” Mintz said.

He explained that the county can pass an ordinance to allow for the signs’ reinstallation if there is sufficient data to support a year-round manatee zone. Mintz continued that state officials think there is sufficient data for the county to do so, and he has been talking with Lee officials about doing that.

“Sanibel and Fort Myers Beach are in the process of doing the same thing for their zones,” he noted.

Mintz suggested that the CCP make a formal request to Lee County and the Lee County Board of County Commissioners for the manatee zone to be re-established in the Roosevelt Channel.

The panel agreed and directed staff to follow through.

IN OTHER NEWS

– Mintz reported that he heard back from LCEC on the pole recently installed near Blind Pass. LCEC explained it is so “massive” because it had to be self-supporting and there are no plans to change it.

On a related note, the panel agreed to send a letter to the city of Sanibel thanking it for a “job well done” on the emergency shore protection project recently completed on Sanibel-Captiva Road.

– The panel agreed to retain consultant Max Forgey at a cost of no more than $200 per month. He has been assisting the CCP with its work on updating and amending the current Captiva Code and Plan.

– Administrator Ken Gooderham reported that he heard back from Lee County on possibly getting a wavier to excuse respondents from having to notarize a letter that they will be required to send back to “vote” for creating an MSTU to pay for iguana control services. Officials said the waiver is possible.

He provided a draft letter to the panel to review that requests such a wavier for the community.