People near the proposed reclaimed water facility in Estero say it’s not happening in my backyard. Lee County plans to build a new facility for future growth, but neighbors aren’t happy.

It’s no secret that Lee County is a growing area, and with more people naturally comes more red. So a plan is needed to make this waste water useful.

New proposed water feature. CREDIT: WINK News

“That’s something we always try to stay ahead of,” said Pam Keys, director of public utilities for Lee County.

The county said this type of facility produces “higher quality” water from wastewater by removing nutrients. But not everyone supports the project. Serge Thomas, an assistant professor in FGCU’s aquatics school, lives about two miles from where the facility will be located and has many concerns.

“First of all, I think it’s the wrong place because it’s, again, basically a branching off of different roads and wildlife corridors. That’s one thing. Second, you create extensive infrastructure, which means more people will move into the area, which means more degradation down the road,” Thomas said.

Marsha Ellis lives near the site where construction is planned and worries that the land can’t handle such a project.

“The land they put this on is an important flood control resource in my area with real downstream implications for the entire Ester,” Ellis said.

Ellis said longtime neighbors in the area feel disrespected.

“We’re at risk of 1,000s and 1000s and 1000s of people coming off the eastern corkscrew and their waste being pumped more than 20 miles into our country. It’s a bad practice,” Ellis said.

Sprinkler. CREDIT: WINK News

County officials said they are listening and maintaining quality of life is important to them, which they say is the goal of the project.

“We are required to follow the same rules as everyone else to ensure that we are not impacting water quality or the environment,” Case said.

It is planned that the construction of the new facility will begin in 2025.

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