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Cape approves $1 million for algae mitigation

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jun 10, 2021

Cape Coral City Council has authorized City Manager Rob Hernandez to spent up to $1 million to combat blue-green algae in Cape canals.

In a special meeting that was planned for just 15 minutes but ran over an hour Wednesday, Council approved funding for the purchase of up to 10 “bubble curtains” to be placed in fresh-water canal areas most susceptible to the algae.

Mayor John Gunter said the city had a choice of “paying now or paying later.”

“If we pay later, it’s going to be much more. So I’d rather be proactive than reactive, like we were in 2018. We were behind the curve,” Gunter said. “Moving forward with this is something we can use for many years and, if we don’t have an incident this year, we have something in place in the future.”

The idea is to not repeat what happened in 2018 when blue-green algae choked the city’s canals, leaving thick pea-green goo at the ends of them and making some people sick from airborne toxins.

The city purchased a bubble curtain for the Mandolin Canal in 2018, and it seemed to work though by that time, many of the canals had heavy algae blooms

This summer, the plan is to place at least three curtains in the Plato, Lido and Chantrey canals. The plan is to place the curtains at the river to mitigate intrusion into the waterways.

Each curtain could cost as much as $75,000 to buy and install with 10, should the city buy the maximum number approved, coming in at $750,000. The remaining money approved would be used for other prevention and mitigation efforts that the city manager sees fit.

The curtains have a lifespan of up to 20 years, with a 15-year warranty. There are some parts that need to be replaced and general maintenance would be needed on a regular basis

The problem might be how to power the curtains. They could require generators to operate and Gunter said the last thing he wants is for residents to have to hear them running all hours of the day.

Areas in Zone 1 are mostly along the Caloosahatchee River and in the northern areas of the city. Areas south of Cape Coral Parkway are in Zone 2, where the water is saltier and less susceptible to algae growth, Zone 3 are those areas closest to the Gulf of Mexico in the far western areas of the city.

Council was receptive to the plan, saying they were happy they are now being proactive.

Councilmember Dan Sheppard asked is the city could place one near the Chiquita Lock.