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Cape, Fort Myers reach irrigation water pact

By Staff | Sep 19, 2018

Fort Myers Mayor Randy Henderson called it a milestone. Cape Coral Mayor Joe Coviello said it was a win/win for both cities that will only improve relations.

The Cape Coral City Council on Monday, during its regular meeting at City Hall, unanimously approved an interlocal agreement between the two cities for the purchase and disposal of reclaimed water.

City Manager John Szerlag said the agreement was a culmination of six years of hard work between the cities and the DEP.

The Fort Myers City Council approved the agreement on Sept. 4. It is for 30 years from the date when improvements are completed in both cities.

Fort Myers will upgrade its South Wastewater Plant to produce reclaimed water and construct a pump station to deliver 100 psi to Cape Coral.

Cape Coral will construct a 12 MGD capacity reclaimed water main from the Cape Coral Everest Water Plant to the Fort Myers pump station to the east side of the river. The pipeline will be constructed parallel to the Midpoint Bridge and will be either under the river or over it via connection to the bridge.

Both projects need to be completed by Jan. 15, 2023, or upon completion of both parties’ reuse system improvements, whichever is earlier.

The pipeline is estimated to cost $15 million and will be funded through capital budgeting of the Utilities Enterprise Fund. A grant of $790,135 has already been secured and more will be sought to offset the cost.

The initial rate Cape Coral will pay is 95 cents per 1,000 gallons of water for irrigation purposes. The rate carries a cost of living adjustment of 75 percent of the consumer price index or 3 percent, whichever is less.

The agreement will benefit both cities and the environment, said Szerlag. Fort Myers reclaimed water would reduce the need to use potable water for its irrigation systems during periods of drought and increase reliability.

Fort Myers would receive revenue from Cape Coral up to $2.4 million, which will assist the city in funding improvements that would reduce treated sewage discharges into the Caloosahatchee, reducing the amount of nutrients going into the river annually by 100,000 pounds.

“It’s a win/win when water is more precious than oil. It’s good for the environment and it will hold rates steady,” Henderson said.

“It’s going to be a long process but it will end up a positive. The agreement is good for the cities and the environment,” Szerlag said.

City Council was all for the agreement. Councilmember David Stokes said his district has many freshwater lakes and during a brought his residents can’t get their boats in the water.

“I’m pleased with the outcome. This will benefit the city for many years ahead. We have an issue with quality and quantity and this agreement will take care of quantity,” Councilmember John Gunter said.