Fort Myers dumping treated wastewater into Caloosahatchee River

Fort Myers dumping treated wastewater into Caloosahatchee River

(NBC-2) Cape Coral is trying to put an end to water dumping into the Caloosahatchee River.

No, we’re not talking about Lake Okeechobee releases. The city wants Fort Myers to stop dumping its treated wastewater into the river.

The Cape is considered a 100 percent reclaim community. The city recycles all of its waste water back into other uses.

Mayor Randy Henderson of Fort Myers would like to be there too, but both cities have different perspectives on how to get there.

The Caloosahatchee is victim again to daily discharges of effluent treated wastewater. But are we all paying the price of wastewater dumps by the city of Fort Myers into the river?

Utilities Director Jeffrey Pearson for Cape Coral thinks so.

“We’re concerned about the environment and the health of the river,” he said.

Pearson stated that Fort Myers is dumping potentially harmful chemicals into the river.

“There is a pattern of hits for various constituents in the wastewater that are not good for the environment.”

Mayor Henderson admitted that does happen.

“There are times when the discharge may exceed what the EPA would like to see in that water,” he said. “It’s very nominal.”

Fort Myers resident Dawn Garrod isn’t buying it.

“Somebody is telling you it’s acceptable, but who knows if it’s acceptable or not,” she said.

Henderson says Fort Myers is trying to stop dumping, and the two cities are working together to build a pipeline that would send Fort Myers wastewater to Cape Coral for reuse. He says that would account for 100 percent of the effluent water.

But Pearson says the health of the river is too important to wait for a project, which could be three years from becoming a reality. He added that Fort Myers needs to take steps now to get out of the river.

“Build deep injection wells, make plant process improvements,” he said.

If a pipeline between the cities is built, Cape Coral will pay Fort Myers for the wastewater. Mayor Henderson says some of that revenue could then be used to upgrade the city’s wastewater treatment plants or build deep injection wells.

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