Lee County takes contractor bids to aid in the next water crisis

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Drone footage of algae in Cape Coral canal on July 25, 2018. Credit: WINK News

Bracing for another hit to our water quality as Lee County commissioners are already looking at contractors to take care of algae in case it ends up in your backyard.

With unprecedented algae and water problems last year, Brian Hamman, a Lee County commissioner, admits they were not prepared.

“Last year, we were hit with an algae crisis like this county has never seen,” Hamman said. “We didn’t even have companies on stand by. Actually, there weren’t companies to hire. No one had been vetted by the state for clean up.”

Now, they are evaluating pilot programs used last year and vetting other companies with solid techniques to hire and put on stand by for the next potential crisis.

“We had proposals from using ozone or hydrogen peroxide or biological remediation and chemical treatment,” said Roland Ottolini, director of Lee County Natural Resources. “We’re doing this up front, so if we have a crisis, we can bring one two or three companies and have them work simultaneously.”

Companies have until Thursday to place their bid. Then, the evaluation committee will make its decision on who to hire.

Hamman said they could negotiate prices and the treatment methods all ahead of time to avoid last-minute action.

Beyond cleaning up what we can see is getting to the bottom of the problem underneath. Commissioners have approved two nearly $90,000 programs for more studies to help identify the source of the problem. One of them it has recently learned are septic tanks.

“If you have a septic tank that’s failing and you’re within the watershed,” said Cecil Pendergrass, a Lee County commissioner, “you need to get your septic tank fixed.”

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