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Water quality remains key issue for council

By Staff | Aug 21, 2018

Until the first cold snap or until the releases from Lake Okeechobee are discontinued, the state of the water is going to be the main issue for citizens throughout Southwest Florida.

Public input during Monday’s regular Cape Coral City Council meeting at City Hall brought many of the same people to the podium, talking about the same issue.

On a night with a pretty light agenda, there was plenty of time for council to again address the issue.

Cheryl Anderson referred to a T-shirt she was wearing that read “Republican, Democrat, Water” on it as if seen on a local ballot. The checkmark was on water.

Anderson talked about a movie she went to see called “The Toxic Puzzle,” and how the blue-green algae and the toxins related to it can cause ALS and Alzheimer’s, which has become a worldwide issue.

“The shirts I wear usually have birds, fish and manatees. I can’t hardly wear them because the pictures of death and destruction are more common,” Anderson said. “What complicates things here is the red tide that’s going up the west coast of Florida which is being fed by the algae.”

Councilmember Jennifer Nelson spent Sunday on a boat with the Marine Unit of the Cape Coral Police Department and saw it for herself. She said she felt Anderson’s pain and that everyone is in this together.

“One of the most frustrating things is when residents tell us to stop talking and do something,” Nelson said. “Unfortunately, many of these decisions are above our pay grade and are complicated in terms of the politics. The most important thing we can do is vote.”

Mayor Joe Coviello said a coalition led by Sanibel Mayor Kevin Ruane went to the Florida League of Cities and had a resolution passed which would send a letter to the White House and ask for a federal state of emergency to be declared.

“We’ve had the state and county declare one and even some cities are considering it. The money we’ve gotten to clean the canals has been somewhat effective, but the releases are going to start again,” Coviello said.

Jody Sorrels, civil engineer for the city, said the pilot program has skimmed numerous areas in the city that may need to be reskimmed, and that it will be difficult to determine where skimming is going to be needed.

“It’s a flux dynamic with the winds and tides. The algae comes in and collects, and it dissipates throughout the canal, which makes it difficult to collect,” Sorrels said, adding they have canals identified for cleaning so the city can be proactive in case more money becomes available.

City Manager John Szerlag said once they get a cost estimate and determine if the program is successful, they will return to council to determine if there is any funding or if the city would self-fund cleaning the hot spots of the algae

South Cape parking regulations

In other business, the city passed an ordinance to provide regulations for parking commercial vehicles and trailers on certain streets in the South Cape.

The ordinance will prohibit the parking of commercial vehicles or trailers for more than two hours except by permit (except for loading and unloading), weighing more than 10,000 pounds.

The presentation said those vehicles can park between the hours of 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. provided the commercial vehicle and trailer is actively used to provide service and located within 500 feet of the premises and there is a valid building permit or written information describing the location of the premises where the service is taking place, which must be displayed on the vehicle or trailer.