Higher bills, ‘contamination’ concerns in Cape Coral water dispute
City leaders believe the drinking water for 120,000 customers could become contaminated if a wastewater project is approved, but making changes to the project could cost 12,000 other customers.
The Florida Governmental Utility Authority provides water for approximately 12,000 customers in North Fort Myers and is being required by the state to drill a new well to dispose of excess treated wastewater. It is planning to place the well underneath a Cape Coral well that serves 120,000 people.
Cape Coral leaders have said that pressure from the new well would raise the salt levels of Cape Coral’s water supply. City officials have said no one will be at risk of drinking contaminated water, but its customers would have higher bills as the city paid for additional treatments to the water.
“It could increase our utility rates if we were to have to go in and spend tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to combat whatever contaminants that might be in the water that’s not there now,” said Jeff Pearson of the City of Cape Coral.
But FGUA said its project would not contaminate Cape Coral’s water supply.
“First off, the word “contamination” is not an appropriate word,” a spokesperson said. “We do not believe that this project will increase the pressure of the aquifer to the point where it’s driving salty water up into city’s wells.”
What Cape Coral is proposing about salty water in the well could happen, the spokesperson said. But to avoid that issue altogether, FGUA could drill its well deeper. That would cost customers more, FGUA said. A spokesperson for the water provider company said they could know whether the project is approved by the end of the week.
Cape Coral has expressed its concerns to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. If the project is approved, the city council will decide whether they want to take further action.