Lee County Sustainability Initiatives

Fort Myers

Fort Myers takes a comprehensive approach to sustainability to include the natural environment, built environment, economy, and quality of life through its education, policy, and practice both internally within the City organization and externally with the community. Beyond the conversion to a CNG solid waste fleet, solar panels on City Hall, and economic development initiatives that feature adaptive re-use and brownfield redevelopment, Fort Myers is an active partner with the South Florida Water Management District and Florida Department of Environmental Protection in the restoration of natural systems and the environment in an urban setting.

The City of Fort Myers is moving forward from the completion of the award winning Billy’s Creek Filter Marsh in 2010 and is beginning construction of the Ford Street Preserve Filter Marsh and Amenities project. The Ford Street Preserve Project will provide a constructed wetland treatment system that shall remove pollutants from the Ford Street Canal, a waterbody that drains a highly urbanized watershed that is 811.9 acres in size. The Ford Street Canal is currently discharging this area to Billy’s Creek, a 303(d) listed waterbody with no prior treatment from best management practices. This project proposes to provide a BMP for this watershed by intercepting all seasonal runoff from the canal and diverting it to a constructed wetland system that shall consist of: control structure across Ford Street canal, settling pond and two planted wetland treatment cells prior to discharging through an overflow weir to Billy’s Creek. This BMP is expected to reduce the following pollutants discharging to Billy Creek: Biochemical oxygen demand (40-60%), Chemical Oxygen Demand (40-60%), Total Nitrogen (20-40%), Total Suspended Solids (60-80%), and Total Phosphorus (20-60%). The system shall also have passive park amenities to educate the public on storm water pollution to minimize their effect on the environment.

The project also includes 1.63 acres of the passive recreational facility to improve accessibility and provide additional amenities along Billy’s Creek. The improvements consist of constructing a paved walking trail from the existing handicap parking spaces within the park to the existing boardwalk, expanding the available parking at the boardwalk, renovating the existing wooden boardwalk, removing the existing canoe/kayak launch, and constructing 1,299 linear feet of new boardwalk over the herbaceous freshwater marsh, a picnic pavilion, and bike rack. An 18 linear foot extension of 14-inch by 23-inch elliptical reinforced concrete culvert is proposed associated with the paved walkway.

The enhancement of the natural and built environment through filter marshes and preservation of open space serves as a primary objective for stabilizing adjoining residential neighborhoods and promoting redevelopment identified in the East Fort Myers Revitalization and Redevelopment Plan adopted by City Council in 2010. The Billy’s Creek Filter Marsh and Ford Street Preserve Filter Marsh represent the comprehensive approach to sustainability by addressing the environment, the community (society), and the local economy.

Cape Coral

Using proven energy management methods, the City of Cape Coral has cut electricity usage by an average of 38% in 2014 vs. 2008.  This resulted in an annual reduction of 4,638 mWh of electricity at 38 City facilities. Three facilities – City Hall, Eagle Skate Park and the Public Works Annex – cut usage by 50%, 60% and 70% respectively.

At 36 of these facilities, energy reduction was completed without the use of energy project funds.  Air conditioning was set to higher temperatures during unoccupied times.  Outside air ventilation was reduced to code standards.  Uniform lighting was modified to provide good lighting where actually needed and less lighting were it was not.  Over 1,000 bulbs were removed.  Maintenance focused on cleaning A/C condensers and replacing filters.  Systems’ control also was enhanced.  Sports lighting at City athletic facilities was controlled to meet the varying needs of sports events.

The City’s reduction of more than 4,600 mWh of electricity eliminated the need to mine, transport or burn more than 2,500 tons of coal per year for power plant fuel.

Nearly all these improvements were accomplished without capital investment, and the annual cost savings exceed $388,000.

Fort Myers Beach

The North Estero Boulevard project included cleaning storm water before distribution.  The project has been proven to be beneficial and will be implemented as the town implements an island wide storm water program. A second project is the Mooring Fields where pump out boats prevent the effluent from going into the back bay.

Sanibel Island

Removing excessive nutrients from the on-Island water bodies has been a primary achievement of the
City of Sanibel & obtained by converting more than 90% of the Island’s homes from septic systems to an
Island-wide centralized waste water collection & treatment system; adopting the first Ordinance in
southwest Florida banning fertilizer application during the rainy months, developing a voluntary nutrient
management program with the 3 on-Island golfs courses & after releases of wastewater on to the
beaches of Sanibel purchased the privately owned Sanibel Bayous sewage package plant & converted
the former plant to restored conversation lands.

Bonita Springs

The City of Bonita Springs adopted a sustainability strategy in 2011, and is currently preparing an application to the Florida Green Building Coalition (FGBC) to become a certified green local government. In spirit of the city’s “Government Lite” philosophy, the City has been using the FGBC standard to not only optimize operations to function in a more efficient manner through better internal communication, cost reductions, and effective risk and asset management but to also capture our intergovernmental contracts and public/private partnerships with community partners to maintain high-quality services.

Two other notable sustainability initiatives that may be worth mentioning is that the city created a“One Stop Permitting” counter in 2013, expanding Community Development’s permit intake to include those of Bonita Springs Utilities and Bonita Fire permits (separate entities) allowing citizens the convenience to submit all development service permits to one location rather than three separate offices reducing total miles travelled and time for citizens and last month the city was the first in the area to accept the USDOT Mayors’ Challenge for Safer People, Safer Streets effort to advance multimodal safety and accessibility goals for complete streets within the city.

Village of Estero

The Village of Estero was recently incorporated, but their jurisdiction includes Koreshan State Historic Site, and Florida’s first Aquatic Preserve. Designated in 1966, Estero Bay Aquatic preserve boasts 11,000 acres of sovereign submerged lands.

Our community is leading the way moving Lee County Sustainability Initiatives forward!