Caloosahatchee Connect project groundbreaking in Horton Park

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The Caloosahatchee Connect project, which will take up to 12 million gallons of reclaimed water from Fort Myers and push it to Cape Coral through a massive pipe, celebrates the groundbreaking on a new stretch of pipeline in Horton Park on Thursday.

It’s not just for irrigation; the reclaimed water will also be used for boaters and fire protection. Videos of the canals from last year’s dry season in Cape Coral show just as much grass as water and a line showing where the water used to be. When the water levels get really low, boats can’t even go out, and it’s a safety concern for firefighters because the water pressure from fire hydrants needs to be maintained.

The Caloosahatchee Connect project will allow the City of Cape Coral to purchase millions of gallons of reclaimed water that Fort Myers would otherwise send into the Calooshahatchee River.

Cape Coral residents said the project is sorely needed.

“Everything else is drying up,” said Tracey Ramirez. “Where we go fishing at [a friend’s] house, the pond is so low you can’t even catch nothing.”

“This is the worst I’ve ever seen it in years,” said Robert Gosselin. “Wildlife has just taken a bad beating. Fish, birds, plus you get a stench out of here that’s just unbearable.”

“If you want to buy a house where you can go and have mud baths, this would be the place,” said Dennis Blankowitsch.

Work began at 10 a.m. in Horton Park.

Right now, the city is on a twice-a-week watering schedule to help conserve water.

“Look at the ground around you. Look over at the other side of the canal, drier than here. Yards burning up. Right now, it doesn’t help two days a week,” said Norm Price.

Price has lived in the Cape for 35 years, and with more and more people moving here, he wouldn’t say no to more water. “We need it! We need a little water.”

That’s the idea behind the Caloosahatcee Connect Project.

The city took one step closer to making it happen with a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday.

“During the rainy season, we have plenty of water. It’s during the dry season, during those critical months between, say, October through May, that we really need the water the most. So during that time, it’ll help keep the canals more static the levels,” said Jeff Pearson, the Cape Coral Utilities director.

“Water shouldn’t be used one time and thrown to tide. If we can keep reusing, we should. It’s a natural resource, it’s a very valuable resource, and we need to keep as much as we can,” said Chauncey Goss, South Florida Water Management District board chairman.

Lessening the need for water from the Cape’s canals for irrigation should also improve our water quality.

“Keep the 50 tons of nutrients currently being discharged into the river out of the river and put it where it needs to go, which is out of the environment,” said Pearson.

The city’s goal is to have the pipeline completed in October to start pumping water in time for the dry season of 2024.

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