Water-Related News

Department of Environmental Protection will give presentation to Cape Coral on Fort Myers discharges

Cape Coral City Council and city staff pressed representatives for the Florida Department of Environmental Control on Fort Myers effluent wastewater discharges into the Caloosahatchee River.

The spat, during a wide-ranging Cape Coral City Council meeting Monday evening, rested on the DEP’s upcoming decision on whether to approve operating permits for two Fort Myers wastewater plants. The permits are set to expire in May.

“I’m concerned that we’re going to have a rubber stamp process going through,” Councilman Jim Burch said.

City officials said they wanted the DEP to include timelines and specific requirements for Fort Myers on its wastewater discharges into the river. Jon Inglehart, district director for the FDEP’s South District, said Fort Myers has had “exceedances” – where certain contaminants have exceeded DEP guidelines – but that Fort Myers, overall, was operating within DEP guidelines.

The DEP will hold a public meeting on April 21 to hear input on the permits and then make a determination of approval or denial on the permits. After that, Cape Coral would have to appeal that determination if they disagreed.

“We’d like to have some conditions included with time frames to make improvements to their wastewater and their effluent discharge,” City Manager John Szerlag said.

The meeting’s discussion was a continuation of a letter Cape Coral city staff sent DEP in February to register complaints with its neighbor’s discharges. In its letter, Cape Coral said pollutants such as fecal coliform, phosphorus, nitrogen, chlorine, copper and cyanide were present at levels greater than water quality standards.