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BOCC Okays grant for Nalle Grade

October 24, 2018
By CHUCK BALLARO ( , North Fort Myers Neighbor

The Lee Board of County Commissioners has approved a grant amendment agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection to increase total grant funding to $2 million for the Nalle Grade Stormwater Project.

Proponents are calling it a step forwar for cleaner water in the Caloosahatchee.

"It's one more project that gets us one step closer to cleaning nutrient runoff into the river. It helps us reduce total nitrogen by about 1,300 pounds per year," said Roland Ottolini, director of the Lee County Division of Natural Resources.

The project is designed to intercept stormwater runoff from the Bayshore Creek watershed just downstream of Nalle Grade Road, which is collecting 750 acres of runoff. Water will be pumped from an existing channelized section of the waterway and placed into a settling area for pre-treatment. Then, it will be delivered into a restored wetland area for further pollutant removal before returning to Bayshore Creek.

The system is designed to bypass flood flows when major storm events occur so as not to contribute to area flooding.

"It's a common practice to use creative wetlands to provide nutrient updates to storm water. It does a good job of that," Ottolini said.

Nitrogen and phosphorus are naturally occurring elements. Excess occurs when there are fertilizers being used or old septic tanks and development.

The Caloosahatchee estuary has a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) designation for Total Nitrogen and an adopted State of Florida Basin Management Action Plan to lower this pollutant.

Commissioners spend millions of dollars annually on projects to reduce pollutants in the estuary.

Construction is expected to begin in January 2019 and take about a year. The total cost is estimated at $3.2 million, which includes the grant funding, of which $1 million was recently added to double the grant amount. The remainder of the money will come from the general fund.

Ottolini said that while Powell Creek is also under way and they have done Pop Ash Creek and Prairie Pines is wrapping up, while there are some projects being considered, there isn't anything in the immediate future.



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