Completion of new water storage project to help water quality in Caloosahatchee

Published: Updated:

Southwest Florida’s water quality got a boost on Tuesday.

Nearly 10,000 Olympic swimming pools worth of water annually will be stored and treated in Alva. That will keep the water from running off the land and into the Caloosahatchee.

“The Caloosahatchee Estuary is kind of the heartbeat of Lee County,” said Drew Bartlett, from the South Florida Water Management District.

The project’s called the Aljo Four Corners Rapid Infiltration Project. It means more storage west of Lake Okeechobee.

“Everything that runs off of the land ultimately runs into the natural waterways,” said Lee County Commissioner Brian Hamman, “and this gives the water a chance to kind of go through some vegetation and get a lot of those nutrients and fertilizers pulled out of it.”

Lake Okeechobee

While we often point blame at Lake Okeechobee when we see blooms, SCCF Environmental Policy Director Matt DePaolis said Southwest Florida’s water quality issues start locally.

“And I think that’s really highlighted by the fact that we haven’t been getting very many releases from Lake Okeechobee this summer,” said DePaolis.

Those blooms won’t disappear overnight. DePaolis said we will see positive results in increments.

The storage facility is possible through a private-public partnership and is on a citrus grower’s land. The state will pay him $25 million over 10 years for using the land.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.