Fort Myers owes more than $22,000 to the Florida Department of Environmental Protection for dumping untreated water into the Caloosahatchee River.
After Hurricane Irma, millions lost power, including Fort Myers wastewater facilities.
Without working pumps, 35,000 gallons of untreated water was dumped into the river.
“It overwhelms the system and causes changes to the quality of what comes in and the quality of what comes out of our wastewater plant,” the director of public works Richard Moulton said.
Fort Myers city council met Monday night to discuss how to pay the DEP fine.
Rather than paying the thousands in cash, they will offer to pay-in-kind, purchasing multiple generators, so this never happens again.
“We’re not going to pay the state in cash, we’re going to use our cash to buy tangible equipment to resolve the issue…” said Mayor Randall P. Henderson Jr.
Some council members weren’t happy, saying the city is being punished for Mother Nature’s wrath.
“Does it seem fair? That we have to pay a fine for a natural occurrence?” asked council member Fred Burson.
The city manager was quick to remind the council the DEP will have the final say.
“I agree with you council member, but we cannot tell them what to do,” said city manager Saeed Kazemi.
Moulton is confident buying new generators will prevent this from happening again.
As for the 35,000 gallons already dumped into the river, there is no plan for clean-up.
“There’s nothing that can be done,” said Moulton.
For now, the council will wait for the DEP’s approval of their proposal.
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