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FGCU Breaks Ground on The Water School Site

Andrea Perdomo

Florida Gulf Coast University held a ground-breaking ceremony Thursday at the site that will house the water focused research initiative, The Water School

About 100 community leaders, local legislators, faculty and students gathered at the site of the $58 million project. 

According to FGCU professor and The Water School’s founding director Greg Tolley, the 117 thousand square foot building will serve as the epicenter for water research and public discussion.

"With a dramatic four-story atrium, multipurpose room and an auditorium this will also be a very public space I think, Tolley said. "One where we can gather together to talk about water and water-related issues."

University President Dr. Mike Martin said FGCU is geographically situated to spearhead research on water-related issues. Southwest Florida's economy is reliant on the quality of the water and prolonged toxic algae blooms have raised health concerns.

"There's no more profound set of issues facing the future of this region then what we do on water," Martin said. "And therefore a regional university ought to make sure that's a player in that." 

Martin said The Water School will have state-of-the-art laboratories and classrooms that he hopes will attract worldclass scientists and students who will help combat water issues facing not only Southwest Florida, but the world. 

To date, FGCU has secured a little more than $40 million for The Water School project. Martin said he feels confident the funds for the remaining amount will be approved during the upcoming state legislative session.

"We’ll wait until the legislature concludes but they’re going to begin doing some of the site preparation now," Martin said. 

Martin said the university hopes to begin construction in the fall of 2020.