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Fort Myers will invest in environment to avoid fine

Posted at 11:28 PM, Feb 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-16 23:28:47-05

FORT MYERS, FLA — Tuesday night's Fort Myers city council meeting was kicked off with some harsh words for the City manager and a call for an investigation.

"And I really think you all are going to need to do a deep dive into the department of public works," said a resident.

The controversy is all over the state of water in Fort Myers.

That's after the State Department of Environmental Protection said the city's had more than 70 sewage spills and that some of its water isn't up to par.

"We agreed to correct the problems," said Richard Moulton, the city's Director of Public Works.

Moulton claims most of the problems are due to people hitting above-ground sewers with their cars or with lawnmowers, but he did also admit that there were serious issues with the water at Billy Creek and Manuel's Branch.

"It's an impaired body [of water]," Moulton said.

It was revealed that the council wasn't aware of the full extent of the problems at billy creek, Because of a September 8, 2020 presentation, which apparently made them think the water was fine.

Council members also learned Tuesday that the city's water plants have some mechanical issues, which led to the mayor asking this question three times.

"So how likely are we to experience a catastrophic failure with one of our wastewater plants?" said Kevin Anderson.

After some dodging, Public works employees landed on this answer:

"The equipment that Siemens was tasked with installing, there have been failures in that equipment," said an employee.

In the end, they voted to accept the blame for the problems and are choosing to work with the state DEP to fix them over the course of several years.

The council was faced with either paying a $500,000 fine or investing $700-thousand dollars into environmental projects tonight, in order to make the DEP happy.

They went with the second option, but they still have to decide what they'll be investing in.

The mayor also says they'll be digging deeper into the state of the city's water plants.