The city of Cape Coral has received additional confirmation from the state as to how it addresses environmental concerns.
According to a prepared statement issued by the city Friday, the municipality and the Florida Department of Environmental Protection have found "common ground on future plans for Chiquita Lock" in the southwest Cape.
Councilmember Pete Brandt and city staff met with FDEP officials on Thursday to discuss options involving the city's operation of the lock, and the results of the meeting were very positive, according to the statement.
Specifically, Cape and FDEP officials discussed water sampling results from both sides of the structure and the city agreed to install additional monitoring stations, according to Councilmember Pete Brandt, the city's liaison on the matter.
Councilmember Brandt said the city would like -water quality tests permitting - to allow the lock to be open to boat traffic from the river during inflowing tides. Pending additional study and data analysis conducted by the city and presented to FDEP, this could occur as quickly as a couple of weeks.
Long term, the city wants to explore the possibility of removing the lock, hence the water quality studies to make sure there would be no negative impact on state waters.
Finally, the city also wants to make sure the waters behind the lock can meet state standards because if the lock is removed, the South Spreader then will fall under state environmental control.
Meanwhile, the FDEP has agreed to make money available, perhaps as much as $100,000, from the GAC Trust Fund. This will help pay for any temporary repairs needed for the lock, including improvements to the lock's hydraulic operating system. That's what got the state involved in the first place
Councilmember Brandt views Thursday's discussions as a step forward in seeing whether removal of the structure that separates the waters of the river and canal as many Cape boaters wish is environmentally feasible.
Collecting data and making a science-based decision either way makes sense to us.
We look forward to reporting the results.
- Breeze editorial