Drainage issues continue in North Fort Myers

Posted at 7:10 PM, Mar 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-03 19:11:12-05

NORTH FORT MYERS, FL - Up to a foot of standing water is going nowhere in North Fort Myers. One local rancher tells Fox4 South Florida Water Management and Lee County aren’t doing enough to fix the drainage issues that’s plagued the area for years. And with the unusual amount of rain they received during the typical dry season, the problem has only gotten worse.

"If we got 3 inches of rain tonight, this field would be 3 inches deeper. There's nowhere for the water to go," said George Westenbarger, who runs a cattle farm in North Fort Myers.

Westenbarger says the standing water on his field is costing him big, "I’'ve had cattle dying out here”

And the loss isn’t only watering down his business. Westenbarger says the mold and algae is affecting his health too.

"I've been coming home sick and I've been wondering why do I get sick coming out here."

Ever since he bought his land in 2001, he’s been trying to get water to flow out of his property and into the Caloosahatche River but has gotten nowhere.

Four In Your Corner reached out to Lee County to try to get Westenbarger some answers.

In an email statement, a spokeswomen tells Fox 4, “This area is naturally prone to seasonal flooding because the watertable is quite high and much of the area is deemed to be wetlands and/or floodplain as a result of the large amount of sheet flow of surface water that comes from the north (all the way up to Charlotte County). Lee County is not financially responsible for what is otherwise a natural condition.”

“I'm almost 30 ft above sea level and a mile and a half from the river so why would there be water here,” Westenbarger said.

A spokeswoman with Lee County adds that while they’re not responsible, Westenbarger should reach out to the appropriate state or federal agency to get permits to make the adjustments he needs to fix the problems he’s facing.