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City of Fort Myers says water may be an issue for future construction jobs, contractors say it's a necessity

Posted at 6:47 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 18:47:11-04

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On Thursday, the city of Fort Myers said they can no longer promise water access for contractors when building at their job sites.

Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson said that promise of water is something that normally is promised when the city issues contractors a permit to build.

"I know one of the concerns was when permits are issued that there is an agreement for lack of a way of putting it that water will be available, now they are concerned that, can we say that?" said Anderson.

On Thursday, the mayor said we're fine, that city wells are full.

I asked contractor Paul Barnes if a construction site can be completed without water.

“No, absolutely not,” said Barnes.

With that context, Barnes, known by many across Southwest Florida as the Hawaiian Handyman, said Fort Myers saying they're not able to guarantee water for the duration of their projects, has contractors like him concerned.

“Water is in every aspect of building a home, from clearing the lot to pouring the slab,” said Barnes.

Mayor Anderson agreed, that providing water to the people and workers of Fort Myers is important.

"It is a very serious situation," said Anderson.

Mayor Anderson acknowledged the permitting concern after City Manager Marty Lawing told him the department of environmental protection and health was worried about the city's ability to provide water to new projects.

"My initial reaction was to be one, upset, that we got in this position and then there was a degree of disappointment that the city has let the public down," said Anderson.

As an answer, Anderson said the city will take responsibility for fixing the problem but he said they are not responsible for how it was handled by previous administrations.

"We are rushing to not only drill wells but expand the water plant and add an additional water plant, yes those are things that should have been done probably five-ten years ago that process should have started..and it didn't," said Anderson.

As for contractors like Paul Barnes, the idea of not being promised water means builders can’t ensure the job will get done.

"This is bad news all around," said Barnes.