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Cape Coral joins Resiliency Compact to curb climate change

The FGCU Water School, which helped facilitate the Resiliency Compact, is under construction. It is set to open in January 2022.
The FGCU Water School, which helped facilitate the Resiliency Compact, is under construction. It is set to open in January 2022.

Cape Coral joined 13 other Florida cities and counties, in March, in passing a Resiliency Compact, dedicated to curbing climate change and preserving the coastal shores.

Cape Coral joined the Compact with Charlotte, Collier and Lee counties based on biogeographic and economic similarities. Cape Coral has beencollaborating with the FGCU Water School to facilitate the compact.

“Our main focus is sea level rise, increased storminess, and increased harmful algal blooms” said Dr. Maya Robert, director of Environmental Resources for Cape Coral. “Roughly forty percent of Cape Coral is in a flood zone.”

Sea level rise could leave Cape Coral underwater.

"Cape Coral is the largest city in Florida, so the city council members felt that it was imperative to pass a memorandum of understanding with the impact it could have with the canal system,” said Dr. Robert.

Cape Coral has 400 miles of canals,and, geographically, is ranked for its land area and the 8th city for its population, compared to other cities in Florida.

The east coast of Floridaalso has a resiliency compact, which has been active for years. That Resiliency Compact consists of 27 cities and counties including Miami-Dade, Broward, Monroe and Palm Beach counties.

“We are very fortunate that Gov. DeSantis is a huge proponent of coastal resiliency,” said Jennifer Nelson, a Cape Coral City council member for District Four. “He has earmarked funding for it, and we will also get funding from the federal government.”

Florida is set to receive $1 billion over four yearsto address climate change for the compact.

“This compact would have a positive impact on my life,” said Robert James, who has lived in Cape Coral for 24 years. “I like to do things outside and I would like to see preservation of the environment.”

The Compact is only a few months old and does not yet have a set cost or a budget.

“Currently there is no cost to local governments associated with operating the Compact per se, thanks to the help of the FGCU Water School, acting as facilitator,” said Dr Robert. “Those decisions regarding how the Southwest Florida Resiliency Compact will be governed and operated will be further discussed and determined by elected officials’ part of the compact during future meetings.

The compact comes with additional challenges.

“Our main challenge is that, because the compact is so new, it is ungovernable at this point,” said Nelson.

Roberts could not give a set date for future meetings to settle the specifics of the compact.

“Once the Resiliency Compact gets its footing, we will need to do a public education campaign,” said Nelson.

Corrected: November 15, 2021 at 10:00 AM EST
Corrections were made to this story to clarify some factual errors: adjusting the size of Cape Coral relative to other Florida cities; additional information on the scope of the compact; the cities involved in an east coast resiliency compact; clarification on the potential cost or budget of the Southwest Florida compact.