Cape Coral canals nearing dangerously low levels

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Drew Hill
Published: Updated:
Cape canals
Credit: WINK News

Canals in Cape Coral are nearing dangerously low levels in neighborhoods and it’s a sign that it may be time to conserve.

The last time freshwater canals dropped to record lows saw some boats unable to move through the water.

Two weeks ago, someone could wade through water in canals along Fifth Avenue. Six weeks ago, a homeowner docked his boat there. Now, a boat would be high and dry or stuck in the mud.

“Pretty soon, we can just like play baseball out here,” said Ester Sillevis, who lives along a freshwater canal in the Cape.

So does her neighbor, Brian Sheehan. “They’re dead in the water. No pun intended.”

These neighbors live along a freshwater canal with a low-level problem.

“You buy waterfront property and you pay waterfront taxes and you’re not getting waterfront?” Sillevis said.

The City of Cape Coral says it is pumping more than 15 million gallons of reservoir water per day into more than 300 miles of freshwater canals. That amount of water would fill nearly 23 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

“Don’t know where they’re pumping them to? Not to my canal. It’s disappointing,” Sillevis said.

Sheehan lives right across the water. “I bought this house. I mean, it was a complete rehab, it wasn’t the house that I was looking for. It was the location, this is the reason that I bought right here, and as time went on, this is nothing but disappointment.”

If you recognize Sheehan, it’s because WINK News introduced you to him when he beached his boat in the canal.

“We’re going back to three years now,” said Sheehan.

In 2018, Cape Coral and Fort Myers agreed to build a pipeline across the Caloosahatchee River to send reclaimed water to the Cape. That would help the city maintain its freshwater canal levels during the dry season. But that pipeline isn’t finished yet.

And patience in Cape Coral is wearing thin.

“This was the inspiration for coming down here, moving to Florida, living on the water. It’s nice,” Sheehan said.

“I know that there must be something that can be done,” Sillevis said.

Cape Coral officials say these water levels are close to what they were in 2020.

The project expected to fix all of this, the pipeline from Fort Myers to Cape Coral, is set to begin construction this fall.

The good news is that, according to the city, the purple fire hydrants that use freshwater are safe, for now.

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