CAPE CORAL, Fla., - The City of Cape Coral is taking the first step towards solving its water crisis, launching a test run Friday to pump water from a reservoir in Punta Gorda.
The test period is expected to last 48 hours. If it goes well, officials plan to begin running 17 million gallons of water a day from the reservoir in an effort to bring relief to what officials are calling a historic drought.
"This could be a hundred year event we're in right now. It's the worst drought we've seen in a long time," said Jeff Pearson, Utilities Director with the City of Cape Coral.
The latest move comes after the lack of rain forced a once a week irrigation restriction for residents.
"I've never seen the freshwater canals as low as they are, and they're really low," said Harry Osbon, a Cape Coral resident. "It's a tight time. It's going to be a tough month to get through."
Officials say the water from the reservoir will be pumped into drainage ditches along US 41. The water, flowing south, will end up in the Gator Slough Canal, which feeds into the freshwater canal system in Cape Coral.
"It won't be like a tsunami of water coming down the canals. However, it'll be a slow gradual improvement in the levels that'll help us weather this severe drought," Pearson said.
The project is expected to be only a temporary fix, but may eventually become a permanent supplement of freshwater to Cape Coral.
"We're really excited to have this project underway and relief is on the way for our canals to start recharging and hopefully recover to the point where we can go back to the two day week at some point in the future," Pearson said.
Pearson says the project won't translate to a rate hike for residents.