Project to improve Fort Myers water quality

A woman holding a pitcher of tainted water. Credit: WINK News

Fort Myers city leaders have a plan to fix the rust-colored water coming out of faucets in McGregor Reserve.

For months, community members in McGregor Reserve have been scared to use their water to cook and clean, but city officials hope a new project will make concerns like that a thing of the past: replacing the water main along Winkler Canal. Right now, there’s a 12-inch metal pipe; once they’re done, it will be replaced with a PVC pipe.

Richard Moulton, the Fort Myers utilities director, says although water issues from McGregor Reserve were the reason the project was created, the positive impacts from it will extend well beyond that neighborhood and to the entire southwest section of the city.

“When you have older pipes, there is a possibility that the pipe itself and the age of the pipe can contribute to the level of rustiness that you see in the water,” Moulton said. “I can’t say it solves everything; I can say that it would make an improvement because we’re replacing metal pipe that can contribute to rusty water with a PVC pipe that has no contribution to rusty water.”

PVC pipes are resistant to both corrosion and chemicals, which is why Fort Myers city leaders think this change will lead to long-term improvements to community water. People living in McGregor Reserve were so fed up with the quality of water in their homes that some hired independent water inspectors to test it.

Moulton says there will be no impacts to traffic due to the water main project, and crews will also work to make sure there are no impacts to the waterway.

“It’s a typical project, you have advanced things you need to do to protect the environment from the construction-related work,” Moulton said. “I think what they’re going to be doing more so in the next coming weeks is the protection of the waterway by putting up barriers, turbidity barriers and barriers to stop stuff from going off the project site into the waterway.”

The project started in March and is expected to run until October.

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