Cape Coral City Council is expected to vote Monday on a multi-agency, multi-organizational agreement that would put a water quality mitigation plan in place in lieu of replacing the Northwest Spreader.
The Northwest Spreader Ecosystem Management Agreement calls for a series of actions or projects on the part of the city, the county and other stakeholders with the goal being better water quality in Cape canals in the northern area of the city, Matlacha Pass and its tidal estuaries.
The agreement has been more than two years in the making and has involved not only the city and Lee and Charlotte counties but numerous environmental groups and agencies including the Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program Policy Committee, which already has approved the pact.
We agree, it's a good effort, and we urge the Cape Coral City Council to approve the agreement on Monday. We also urge the Lee and Charlotte County Boards of County Commissioners to give their approvals on Tuesday and Sept. 21 respectively.
The alternative is to replace the spreader structure, an effort experts say would be both costly and doomed to ultimate failure, resulting in erosion, loss of mangroves, additional breaches around any newly constructed barrier, and additional sediment in environmentally sensitive waters.
Make no mistake, the agreement does call for some substantial changes that will affect Cape property owners.
Specifically, the agreement calls for a city implemented fertilizer ordinance that is more restrictive than state recommendations, calls for a revamp to the city's seawall program to allow for natural filtration and habitat, a study that could lead to a septic tank maintenance program, and a tidal canal monitoring program.
It also would mandate a re-start of the utility expansion program by tying sewer installation to outlined "density" benchmarks - a ratio of developed properties compared to empty lots. Some of these density parameters have already been met.
The agreement, nonetheless, remains the best long-term, cost-effective plan for the city.
It's also the best-choice option for surrounding communities interested in mitigating our shared environmental issues.
Despite votes by the naysaying stakeholder participants, approve the agreement. It's the proper course of action.
- Breeze editorial