Water-Related News

Lee County Utilities customers may notice a temporary change in their water

FORT MYERS – Lee County Utilities will be temporarily converting its disinfectant process from chloramines to free chlorine residual from June 1 through June 21, 2020.

This is a routine measure that is common for water utilities using chloramines as its primary disinfectant.

Anyone who uses a kidney dialysis machine at home should contact an equipment supplier so the proper filtering equipment may be installed.

Tropical fish or aquatic animal owners should contact a local tropical fish store for appropriate pretreatment of water before adding water to tanks.

Customers may notice a temporary change in the taste, odor and color of the water, which is not harmful.

This is a routine measure to ensure customers of clean, safe potable water.

Customers with questions can call 239-533-8845 during normal business hours, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Lee County Utilities is one of about a dozen public and private utility organizations that serve residents and businesses in Lee County. For service area locations, visit www.leegov.com/utilities/newdevelopment/service-franchise-area-maps.

Captiva Community Panel to request bridge restrictions

The Captiva Community Panel agreed to formally request that Lee County prohibit fishing from the Blind Pass Bridge at its recent meeting, as well as discussed how to proceed with an engineering study for a possible central sewer system and received an update on the Sea Level Rise Committee's work.

On May 12, President David Mintz provided an overview of the panel's communications with the county over the past year regarding the bridge. In July, the CCP voted in favor of closing the bridge to fishing due to safety concerns for pedestrians and advised Lee County's manager of its stance on the situation.

It also suggested installing an ADA-accessible fishing structure as a replacement.

In August, a memo was sent to Commissioner John Manning outlining the same. The panel contacted the county again in September after nothing was done, and in December the county's Department of Transportation offered to put in rubber poles between the edge of the traffic lanes and concrete barrier.

Charlotte Harbor SWIM Plan public comment period ends May 29th

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The Southwest Florida Water Management District will be taking comments until May 29, 2020 on the May 2020 Draft Charlotte Harbor Surface Water Improvement & Management (SWIM) Plan.

A public workshop will be held via Skype on May 26, 2020 from 4-6 p.m.

For updated and detailed information and to learn how to view or participate in this meeting, please use the link below.

Bonita Springs applies for state money for stormwater projects

The Bonita Springs City council has approved moving forward with the application process to provide additional state funding for the Spring Creek Bonita Golf Course and BG Mines Stormwater Improvement Project.

On March 30, 2020, the DEO announced an additional funding cycle to the Rebuild Florida’s CDBG-DR Infrastructure Repair Program. As a continuation of the first cycle, this program allows local governments to apply for grant funding for projects to restore and improve infrastructure in areas damaged by Hurricane Irma. The program is only available to those city and county governments that are within the Most Impacted and Distressed (MID) areas, as defined by HUD and DEO in the 2018 State of Florida Action Plan for Disaster Recovery. DEO has allocated $100,229,945 million in additional funding for Phase 2 for this program. Lee County and all cities located within the County are MID areas.

The application cycle opened on March 30, 2020 and the deadline to submit the CDBG-DR application to DEO is June 30, 2020. There is no match requirement for this application.

Coral Pointe Canal restoration work to begin May 26th

The City of Cape Coral will begin restoration work along the Coral Pointe Canal on Tuesday, May 26.

The work will involve mobilizing equipment to the project site, the removal of invasive species (Australian Pines), bank reshaping, berm building, hydroseeding and mangrove planting. An agreement between the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) and the City allows up to 120 days for remediation work to be completed. In July, the City received a warning letter from the FDEP after protected mangroves were removed during a canal maintenance project.

To view the agreement that contains details about the remediation requirements, please visit the link below.

State of Florida approves Sarasota County conservation deal

State leaders have agreed to acquire more than 5,000 acres of land in Sarasota County for conservation.

Environmentalists have long had their eyes on Orange Hammock Ranch in North Port because of its proximity to other preserved lands in the Myakka River watershed.

Christine Johnson, president of the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, says the property is a pristine habitat.

“It not only has wetlands that help filter water for the drinking water supply of the city of North Port, but it also has globally imperiled habitat called Dry Prairie on it,” she said. “It's been impeccably maintained and is also home to many imperiled species like the indigo snake, the gopher tortoise, and the scrub jay. It's even been known to have panther come across it."

Officials approved acquiring the property for $21 million through the Florida Forever Conservation program with the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast pledging to contribute $1.5 million through fundraising. The nonprofit has until June to raise the money.

Sanibel City Council directs staff on beach renourishment, water restrictions

The Sanibel City Council directed staff to obtain a proposal from the city's coastal engineer on its options for managing the north end of the island near Blind Pass, as well as directed staff to continue working on a draft ordinance for watering restrictions that could be implemented during a drought.

At the May 5 meeting, the council voted unanimously 5-0 for Humiston and Moore Engineers to provide staff with an economic breakdown of beach renourishment options for the area from Blind Pass to Silver Key, including a new interlocal agreement with the Captiva Erosion Prevention District.

Natural Resources Director James Evans reported that a prior agreement between the city, CEPD and Lee County expired in 2015, which was used to mitigate the impacts in the Blind Pass area. Staff has been renegotiating with the CEPD on a new one that would focus on management and renourishment.

Smelly Sarasota County tap water linked to algae bloom

Sarasota County officials say the algae bloom is typical this time of year and the Peace River Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority is treating it with activated charcoal to counter odor and taste issues.

SARASOTA COUNTY — Sarasota County water customers may have noticed a slight odor and taste difference in their tap water over the past few days.

Officials say that was caused by a recent algae bloom in the Peace River. Sarasota County customers use, on average, about 21 million gallons of water per day, and 15 million gallons a day comes from the Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority.

Dave Cash, assistant director of public utilities for Sarasota County, said Wednesday that increased water temperatures prompted more algae growth in general.

“It’s typical in Southwest Florida this time of the year,” Cash said. “As the water temperature increases and conditions change in late spring, it’s not unusual to have algae blooms in large bodies of water.

“It’s safe to drink; it meets all standards. It’s a taste and odor issue only,” he later added. “What we get from them is finished water, and we receive and deliver it to our retail customers.

Lake releases designed to help Caloosahatchee River

EAA reservoir still “full steam ahead”

JACKSONVILLE — A small change in the amount of water released from Lake Okeechobee to the Caloosahatchee River is designed to help the Caloosahatchee estuaries, according to Col. Andrew Kelly, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Jacksonville District commander.

In a Friday news teleconference, Col. Kelly said a change from the minimum flow designated by the South Florida Water Management District of 457 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 650 cfs will support the Caloosahatchee.

Water from the lake is released to the river at Moore Haven (the S-77 water control structure). The Franklin Lock is 43.4 miles from Moore Haven. For the seven-day period ending March 15, the average flow at the Moore Haven Lock was 711 cfs, and the average flow at the Franklin Lock was 364 cfs. Col. Kelly said some water is lost between Moore Haven and the Franklin Lock due to the extreme dry conditions.

“We know the conditions are dry all around,” he said. “There is absolutely water lost.” He said water is released in pulses, and “there’s a little bit of art to the science” of pulse releases. “We are guessing a little bit when we pulse and we are pretty good,” said Col. Kelly. He said the goal of the releases is to average a flow of 650 cfs at the Franklin Lock.

Study eyes red tide’s effects on humans

SARASOTA — A new study into the neurological effects of red tide on humans could lead to a simple test to determine if an illness is caused by the deadly algae’s brevetoxins.

A significant red tide bloom was visible from the air over Anna Maria Island, Longboat Key, and parts of Sarasota Bay on Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018. The Herald-Tribune flew over the barrier islands to investigate the harmful algal bloom in a Heli Aviation helicopter. Dead fish speckled the discolored water near Bradenton Beach. [Herald-Tribune staff photo / Carlos R. Munoz]

Nearly a dozen researchers from the Roskamp Institute in Sarasota have begun a study with a $400,000 federal grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to advance their work on brain health.

The nonprofit group has studied the causes and potential cures for neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric disorders such as Alzheimer’s Disease, multiple sclerosis and Gulf War Illness. Their work has led to novel treatments clinically tested in Europe and the U.S.

Sargassum seaweed could return to Florida’s beaches in coming weeks

A burgeoning field of burdensome sargassum is making its way from the eastern Caribbean to South Florida with researchers estimating an early July arrival depending on winds and current.

The bloom of brown macroalgae is not expected to be the deep onslaught experienced in the record-breaking year of 2018, but a University of South Florida forecast is calling for an amount similar to 2015 — an above-average year that saw Palm Beach County beaches blanketed well into December.

Chuanmin Hu, a University of South Florida oceanography professor who publishes a monthly sargassum forecast based on satellite observations, said the floating rainforest could reach the Florida Straits next month. From there, it would hitch a ride in the Gulf Stream current north.

SWFWMD declares Phase I Water Shortage in central and southern regions

The Southwest Florida Water Management District's (District) Governing Board voted today to declare a Phase I Water Shortage for the District’s central and southern regions, which include Charlotte, DeSoto, Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties.

The primary purpose for a Phase I water shortage is to alert the public that watering restrictions could be forthcoming. The order also requires local utilities to review and implement procedures for enforcing year-round water conservation measures and water shortage restrictions, including reporting enforcement activity to the District.

A Phase I water shortage order does not change allowable watering schedules, however it does prohibit “wasteful and unnecessary” water use.

The District considers both natural water resource conditions and the viability of public water supplies when deciding to declare a water shortage order – that means, restricting the amount of water the public can use.

The District has worked diligently with our partners to implement water conservation programs and develop alternative water supplies. Even though we are experiencing drought conditions, there is still an adequate water supply available to the public.

Florida’s dry season runs October through May and April is historically one of the driest months of the year. The District encourages water conservation year-round, and offers many tips to reduce water use and additional information on our website at WaterMatters.org/Conservation.

Lee County to open beaches and Parks & Recreation sites

FORT MYERS – Because of continued voluntary compliance and the community’s greater awareness for Centers for Disease Control guidelines, the county announced the re-opening of county parks and preserves including all beaches and beach access points, parking lots and free-standing bathrooms. Staff will be onsite to help encourage following the CDC guidelines, including social distancing. Parks and preserves will open with regular hours Wednesday, April 29.

This move, approved at an emergency Board of County Commissioners meeting today, is part of the county’s phased-in approach for residents while still observing the Governor’s Executive Order. Commissioners offered guidelines (see below) and stressed it is imperative that residents remain vigilant to continue to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. The county beach sites include:

Beach Parks

  • Bonita Beach Park
  • Bowditch Point Park
  • Bowman's Beach Park
  • Causeway Islands
  • Crescent Beach Family Park
  • Little Hickory Island Beach Park
  • Lynn Hall Memorial Beach Park
  • San Carlos/Bunche Beach Preserve
  • Turner Beach Park

Beach Accesses

  • Alison Hagerup Beach Park
  • Andy Rosse Lane Park
  • Boca Grande Beach Accesses
  • Bonita Beach Accesses
  • Dog Beach Park
  • Estero Islands Beach Accesses

The following amenities at all Lee County locations will remain closed:

  • Playgrounds
  • Pavilions
  • Recreation centers
  • Soccer, lacrosse and football fields
  • Basketball courts
  • Piers
  • Splash pads and pools

Baseball and softball fields will re-open with caveats, including no league play and no access to dugouts or bleachers. These fields will be for groups of 10 or less who want to practice baseball or softball – but they will need to contact the Parks & Recreation supervisor listed on each landing page at www.leegov.com/parks for the individual site that has the field. Or people can call the Parks main phone number at 239-533-7275 for assistance.

For additional information about COVID-19-related restrictions, please visit the link below.