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Hayden hosts Town Hall on irrigation ordinance

By Staff | Apr 19, 2021

Councilmember Tom Hayden

Around a dozen people came out Saturday to hear Cape Coral City Councilmember Tom Hayden Hayden, Public Works Director Jeff Pearson, and irrigation expert Scott King discuss a proposed ordinance that would change the regulations regarding irrigation of lawns in the city.

Hayden said that water conservation and the use of water to irrigate lawns may be one of the most important things the city must tackle as growth continues and Cape Coral get closer to buildout.

“The key thing is to talk about irrigation efficiency. How people can water their yards better and what it means for our canals and environment,” Hayden said. “It’s not just important now, but for 10, 20, 30 years from now.”

A draft ordinance was introduced at a Council workshop last Wednesday. While the ordinance showed some promise, most on the elected board said it felt like a rough draft that left more questions than answers.

Hayden said the draft ordinance was brought forward too quickly.

Pearson reiterated his presentation on Wednesday, that population growth has given rise to water conservation problems, waste of source water supply, and degradation of water quality and quantity.

Conservation is going to have to be practiced to meet future demand, and further regulation of private irrigation systems will go a long way toward that goal.

King discussed the science of irrigating lawns and said the way it is done now is inefficient. Some areas of the lawn get flooded while other go bone dry. Overwatered areas spill overflow into the street or canals, carrying pollutants what can degrade water quality.

The use of smart controllers could reduce watering by between 30 and 70 percent, which could help reduce the likelihood of algal blooms that ravaged the area in 2018 in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, officials said.

When the town hall came to the question-and-answer portion, resident David Scott questioned whether there was a shortage or too much demand.

“Our turf is fragile and it needs lots of fertilizers and water. We are watering an agricultural crop you can’t eat,” Scott said. “A change of culture needs to happen.”

Ed Ramos, a director for the Cape Coral Construction Industry Association was also there and questioned the cost of putting a Smart System in, which he said would add about $2,000 to $4,000 to the cost.

As proposed at Wednesday’s meeting, an upgrade to a Smart System would be required if repairs to an existing irrigation system cost $1,000 or more.

Hayden said after the meeting he doesn’t want to see the city face water problems in the future.

“We want the city to be a leader in setting up conservation water efficiency efforts. We need to get aggressive in getting city utilities to areas that are still on wells and septic systems,” Hayden said.