Water-Related News

Proposed Lehigh Conservation 20/20 purchase could reduce threat of a repeat of Irma flooding

Once home base for the founder of Lehigh Acres, later a rock mine and failed real estate venture, a square-mile parcel may be an answer to flooding problems like those brought to east Lee County by Hurricane Irma last September.

Lee County commissioners have given staffers authority to start work to acquire all or part of a 457- to 625-acre piece of Lehigh known as Section 10, Greenbriar, Harmony Ranch and Laguna Estates.

If configured in a way proposed by the Lehigh Acres Municipal Services District, Section 10 could take 3,000- to 4,000-acre feet, equivalent to 1.3 billion gallons of water, away from Bedman Creek and the Orange River, which suffered devastating flooding in the hurricane.

"During Hurricane Irma, where there were some problems on, say, Orange River and Bedman Creek, Section 10 is so strategically located in our district that we can move water from the Orange River or Bedman Creek to Section 10, to lessen the impact," said the service district Executive Director David Lindsay.

A big reason it could work is an odd coincidence. Lindsay points to a random combination of factors such as the location of the limerock beds and the way the platting of Lehigh sited the canals that drained the swamp land for development.

As styled by the service district, the land configuration for Section 10 would use settling ponds and filter marshes to improve water quality. Beyond recharging the water supply, the site could ultimately be used to take and store discharges from the $600 million C-43 Reservoir being built in Henry County for use during the dry season.