Utilities General Manager Jeff Poteet demonstrates how a sweep arm removes sludge from a water treatment tank. Marco Island Utilities provides services to all island residents every time they turn on a faucet or flush a toilet. Lance Shearer/Eagle Correspondent
The headquarters for Marco Island Utilities is at the North Water Treatment Plant, behind a chain link fence topped with barbed wire and a remote controlled gate, off of Elkcam Circle. If the expenditures involved in utility operations are massive, it isn’t because the department has built itself a Taj Mahal.
Utilities General Manager Jeff Poteet’s office is in a doublewide trailer, one of three within the sprawling complex of tanks, pumps and treatment equipment. The carpet is tattered and mud-stained, with racks of engineering drawings, mismatched furniture and ancient, scuffed chairs around a nondescript table.
Marco Island, Poteet explained, has two distinct water sources. The bulk of the water used comes from the Marco Lakes site, a 207 acre facility nine miles north of the island near the corner of U.S. 41 and Collier Blvd., which provides six to eight million gallons per day. This water is fresh, and comes primarily from groundwater infiltration, rainfall that flows into the lakes.