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"It's a godsend": New sewage plant in Everglades City brings relief to residents

Fox 4's Everglades City Community Correspondent Mahmoud Bennett reports that millions of federal and state dollars helped pay for the new plant near Everglades National Park.
Posted at 6:57 PM, Jun 18, 2024

EVERGLADES CITY, Fla — Ever since Hurricanes Irma and Ian swept through southwest Florida, the sewage system in Everglades City has struggled to recover. Now, after years of waiting, residents are celebrating the opening of a new wastewater treatment plant.

"It's like a godsend in God's county, in Everglades City," resident Debbie Moshier told her Everglades City Community Correspondent Mahmoud Bennett.

On Tuesday, the community marked a milestone with the long-awaited unveiling of the new facility, replacing an outdated plant that had been problematic since before 2017 and was further compromised by Hurricane Irma.

Everglades City new wastewater treatment plant
On Tuesday, local leaders cut the ribbon on a long-awaited wastewater treatment plant built for Everglades City.

"We had a plant that was outdated. It probably should have been replaced 10 years before it was... and it was a problem," explained Mayor Howie Grimm, who took office just days before Irma struck.

Intense flooding during the hurricane led to contamination subsequent health concerns among residents. It prompted a campaign to secure funding for a new plant built better.

"We just immediately went out looking for funding, and we were able to find it. And it's taken us this long," Grimm said.

The project was made possible with millions in state and federal dollars, crucial due to the area's proximity to protected lands like Collier-Seminole State Park and the Everglades.

"We're dependent here on tourism, and if we're not polluting the local water, then tourists will come," said Marie Graybes, a local resident who has been waiting for the new plant. "It'll provide clean water for people and the environment," Graybes added.

While other residents expressed excitement, Mayor Grimm stressed that there's more work to be done. Future plans include removing septic tanks for all residents in the area.

"We have a lot more to do, a lot of work on the collection system. And as we expand, like we're hoping to do more with Plantation Island because they're all on septic," Grimm said.

"The cleaner the water, the better Everglades City is."

Mayor Howie Grimm, Everglades City