Cape Coral official: $3 million from FDEP coming for algae cleanup in SWFL

Sarah Jarvis
The News-Press
Aerial view of toxic algae bloom flowing in a canal Friday, July 14, 2018 in Cape Coral, Florida.

As Southwest Florida's toxic algae continues to grab national headlines, a Cape Coral official assuaged concerned residents Monday that the state has identified $3 million for cleanup.

Utilities Director Jeff Pearson said at a Cape Coral City Council meeting that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection will use the money for cleanup in eligible counties, which include Lee and several others. He said that crews may transport the algae to a remote part of south Lee County to dry it out.

Pearson detailed a recent flyover he took over the city to document the spread of the algae for grant applications, and he said the issue was worst in dead-end canals.

Representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will hold an informational meeting on the matter Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. at the Cape Coral Yacht Club Ballroom, located at 5819 Driftwood Parkway. Mayor Joe Coviello held up a letter he says he sent earlier this month inviting representatives to the city.

More:Algae blooms disrupt Cape Coral canals with foul odor, green spray-paint look

More:Algae clean-up funded, but will it work?

Coviello said the city is waiting for the FDEP's approval for removal methods and city representatives have been meeting with vendors that may have solutions for improving water quality. Michael Richter, founder and CEO of Ecological Laboratories in Cape Coral, said via email that the company is getting involved with the city "on a test" to see if it can help.

"You never want to use chemicals to kill the algae," Richter said via email. "The algae is part of the ecosystem and a food source for fish, etc. We just need to keep it under control ... in this case the powers in charge have not."

Similar to last week's council meeting, the first after council's summer hiatus, several residents expressed their concern and anger about the algae.

Cheryl Anderson, with Cape Coral Friends of Wildlife, says she’s not sleeping any better than she was last week when she also addressed council. She’s again encouraged council to take action against sugar companies.

“Everybody here needs to start calling Rick Scott, Adam Putnam ...” she said.

"You need to be out there screaming about this," said resident Louis Navarra. "This is terrible."

In other developments

City Council voted unanimously, with District 4 council member Jennifer Nelson absent, to approve a new land designation for 85 acres in west Cape. The ordinance would allow multifamily housing on the property, which is off Veterans Memorial Parkway, just west of the Sandoval housing community and south of the Cape Royal Golf Club.

The change increases the number of potential dwellings allowed on the property by more than 18 times, from 74 to 1,351 units at buildout, though city planner Chad Boyko previously said the development will likely not include that many units.

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