Fort Myers is set to implement four new water-well locations for the city
The Fort Myers City Council approved adding $5 million for water well projects during its Sept. 15 meeting, raising the cost to a total of $15 million.
The budget increase was questioned by council member Fred Burson, who asked for specifications regarding the budget.
City engineer Nicole Monahan explained the increase to accommodate cost of design, drilling, providing surface assets, and providing raw water transition mains up to current water treatment plants. Monahan said they felt the need to increase the budget for next year to ensure the four new production wells are drilled and in service.
Currently, Fort Myers gets its water from a water treatment plant that is sourced from the Floridian Aquifer. The construction of new wells is meant to provide enough water in the city for the growth that it has experienced, according to Monahan.
Fort Myers is the 15th fastest growing city in America, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. With a growing population, Monahan says, comes the need to think ahead in terms of infrastructure development and environmental impact.
“This is one of the things the city has as an advantage in,” said Richard Moulton, director of Fort Myers public works. “When looking at the facility plan in the same footprint, we can upgrade the technology, the energy efficiency, and the recovery rate to meet well past 12 million gallons without increasing the footprint.”
Moulton said the city is at roughly 75% capacity in terms of water usage. He added that at the rate the city has been growing, use will reach capacity in 2037.
“We are not building for capacity; we are building for resiliency,” Moulton said. “We are building for the ability to make adjustments based on the performance of wells rather than being at the mercy of the performance of the well.”
Council member Burson and council member Darla Bonk raised questions about whether the city’s water quality and water pressure would be improved by the new wells. Moulton said the number of wells does not increase the quality of water but may improve the water pressure for residents of the city. He emphasized that these constructions are for the city’s future.
“It's better to have the wells there than wait until we reach almost capacity and start talking about it,” council member Johnny Streets said. “If you don’t have water, you don’t have nothing.”
This story was produced by Democracy Watch, a news service of Florida Gulf Coast University journalism students. The reporter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.