Information for March 13, 2012, meeting between Lee County Commissioners and Cape Coral

 

Replacement of North Spreader Canal Barrier/Boat Lift

 

Commissioners Bigelow, Hall, Judah, Mann, Manning and Attorney Turner,

 

In February/March of 2009, Jon Iglehart of FDEP told me that the flushing of the North Cape Coral canals into Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve, without the North Spreader Barrier, would elevate [intentionally] the pollution/nutrient levels of the North Spreader Canal and the Aquatic Preserve to be used as baseline data for the new numeric content controls (Ft Myers News-Press, Feb 20, p. B1).

 

Removal of the North Spreader Stormwater Canal Barrier allowed the daily violation of the then current MS4 and violated the Clean Water Act. It allowed the contaminated flushing and “dumping” into the federally and state protected Aquatic Preserve.

 

Note Lee County Natural Resources Staff submitted Dec 2010 a revised MS4 eliminating the requirement of THE primary stormwater treatment structure--the North Spreader Barrier/Boat Lift, that stops freeflow of Northwest Cape untreated stormwater into the estuarine waters of Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve. Although County Commissioners asked for a delay and reconsideration of this revision, which was unknown to them prior to submission and Public Comment period, FDEP denied the County's request.

 

From Cape Council meeting minutes, Sept 13, 2010 (approximately p. 460+/-), Jon Iglehart, FDEP, detailed the events that are now happening: denial of permit, delay, litigation, expected Plantiff/Defendant and expected delay.

 

Cape Coral now promises sewering by 2031. Even if Cape Coral kept its promise, which it has repeatedly demonstrated it does not (note NSEMA decision/non-implementation), the North Spreader will be dumping untreated stormwater into Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve for another two decades, destroying the estuary, sport and commercial fishing, shellfish harvesting, recreational paddling and tourism--destroying the foundation of the estuarine food chain and the base of the local economy of Matlacha and Pine Island.

 

There were no bathymetric, volumetric, biological, geological or chemical studies done in Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve prior to the removal of the Barrier or following. (Janicki's Box Models were simulations done in a lab and did not include the mangrove fringe and impact waters of the Preserve. The nearest data point, off Mound Key in north Matlacha Pass, primarily under the influence of tidal Charlotte Harbor, is approximately FIVE miles from the single-point discharge of the North Spreader into the Aquatic Preserve.

 

At the Feb 7, 2012, meeting between Lee County and Cape Coral Staff, Oliver Clarke asked Lee County Staff if they were familiar with the City of Cape Coral Plan for Water Quality Improvements Effecting the North Spreader Canal. The plan and cost estimates of the plan follow.

 

-----------

 

RE: Lee County - ERP File No. 36-0295854-002 City of Cape Coral Plan for Water Quality lmprovements Effecting the North Spreader Canal and Matlacha Pass July 27,2011

 

http://www.nwcape.com/file%20no.%2036-0295854-002%20-%20city%20of%20cape%20coral%20plan%20for%20water%20quality%20improvements.pdf ...the City of Cape Coral is hereby providing the attached City of Cape Coral Plan for Water Quality lmprovements Effecting the North Spreader Canal and Matlacha Pass PROJECTS TO BE IMPLEMENTED BY THE CITY OF CAPE CORAL 1 Cape Coral Fertilizer Ordinance N/A 2 Condition Based Timing for Development of Public Sewer Systems assessments 3 Storm Water Treatment Improvement $3,684,480 4 Revise the Cape Coral Seawall Engineering Design $10,000 5 Cape Coral Coordination to Improve Flows N/A 6 Septic System Inspection & Maintenance Program Development Study $50,000 7 Water Quality Monitoring $10,000 8 Maintain the Cape Coral Canal Dredging Profile N/A 9 Implement Boating Related Enhancements $118,000 TOTAL COSTS LESS SEWERS almost $4 million Conceptual cost (as of 2010) to sewer all sections of Cape Coral north of Pine Island Rd = $480,000,000 ANTICIPATED NSEMA ESCROW FUNDS AVAILABLE $3,000,000 (questionable) This figure is likely not currently accurate--the $1.5 million added to the fund by Lee County would probably not be available to the City. Those monies were to be used to fund the result of the decision of the NSEMA process, the overwhelming consensus of which voted for Replacing the North Spreader Barrier as the BEST option to protect the Aquatic Preserve. Cape Coral Council mtg 9/13/2010, Oliver Clarke: PAGE 461, September 13, 2010. An additional $60 million if another treatment plant needed; “would probably need another 50-70 ASR wells”. Cost of an ASR well?..."each ASR well costs approximately 2 million” (50-70 ASR wells @ $2 million/well = additional $100 million - $140 million) It will cost Cape Coral HALF A BILLION DOLLARS or more as an alternative to replacing the North Spreader Barrier/Boat Lift. The Barrier/Boat Lift was decided by the NSEMA as a better protection for Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve....and the funds to replace the Barrier are already in escrow... In addition, the increased saltwater flow into the canals, due to the removal of the Barrier, may cause additional City problems due to saltwater intrusion into Northwest Cape wells.

 

The Court ordered the initial mandate of the construction of a Barrier/Boat Lift at the south end of the North Spreader Canal to stop excessive freshwater flow into Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve. The stormwater runoff from the Northwest Cape was flowing into an Aquatic Preserve, not the already impaired Caloosahatchee, as does the South Cape runoff. The Barrier protects the Preserve by reducing current flow and boat turbulence through the Spreader/Preserve interface (the initial weight capacity of the Lift was limited to 7,500 lbs) and allows contaminants to settle and bind with bottom sediments, inhibiting pollutant movement into the Preserve. The Spreader distribution of excess water across the length of the mangrove fringe helps to reestablish historic hydrology essential to the mangroves and estuary. The City of Cape Coral Plan for Water Quality lmprovements Effecting the North Spreader Canal and Matlacha Pass will cost Cape Coral nearly a HALF BILLION taxpayer DOLLARS and still does not address the quality, quantity and timing of excess flows into Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve, nor dredging, nor remediation and restoration of the current damage to the estuary---yet the funds to replace the Barrier are already in escrow and would protect and preserve the Aquatic Preserve!

 

“This aquatic preserve is the essence of the southwest Florida estuary - teeming with life, exquisite in form and extremely sensitive to human caused impacts. It is one of our many jewels in southwest Florida and we have a duty to protect this valuable preserve!”

 

Bob Janes, Lee County Commissioner

 

http://www.dep.state.fl.us/coastal/sites/matlacha/ To Cape Coral residents and taxpayers, are you ready to fund a HALF BILLION DOLLAR bill to sewer NW Cape?

 

To FDEP, will you work collaboratively with the city of Cape Coral toward a Barrier/Lift replacement construction PERMIT that you will ACCEPT?

 

Nancy A. Hindenach, B.S., M.S.

Interdepartmental Biological Sciences