Environment and Water Quality: Based on the Vision Survey, Naples Residents’ Top Priority is Better Storm Water Management to Protect the Bay, Our Beaches, and Our Quality of Life. However, over the past 10 years City Council has funded less than half of the recommended Storm Water Plan.
It is no coincidence that the former City Council incumbents were talking about an ‘accelerated plan’ to make up for years of neglect, comprehensive forward-looking policies for environmental stewardship are necessary. A strong and cooperative partnership with the County is essential. This can be accomplished.
As residents’ concerns mount, the City is playing catch-up to the challenges. Two of the most important issues threatening our city, as rated by you, the residents, are:
- Cleanup of Naples Bay and Other Water Bodies. Ninety six percent of you, the residents, feel this is of the very top importance to be addressed.
- Beach issues: Red Tide and Beach Erosion. Ninety eight percent of you, the residents, feel this is an issue of such importance that a sense of urgency and action is needed.
The increasing threats to Naples’ environment and erosion of our water quality have been evident for many years. They surfaced as major issues in the 2007 Vision plan and were top issues in the 2019 Vision Survey. Over the intervening 12 years City government has, to an extent, acknowledged these challenges but has consistently authorized sub-optimal spending to address them.
The 2007 Storm Water Plan called for a 10-year $74 million capital improvement plan. Over the past several years the City has authorized around $3 million per year, less than half the target spend rate.
- Pollution in Naples Bay has resulted in it being an impaired body of water and remains a chronic problem.
- The outfall pipes carrying storm water into the Gulf is an issue. For years City Council has ignored decaying outfall pipes that discharge untreated/unfiltered water into the Gulf. Florida Department of Environmental Protection has condemned the practice and denied beach replenishment in the affected areas until the problem is remedied.
- The City has over twenty lakes that function as a key component of our storm water runoff plan. These lakes are in various levels of impairment. One lake alone is estimated to cost over $2 million dollars for dredging and cleanup.
We’re playing catch up now. That’s not the approach to preserving what is essential to our well-being and the underpinning of our economy. This election was an evaluation by the voters of the incumbents past performance. If you are looking at the former incumbent City Council’s performance with regard to water quality, only within the six months, before the election, had they been taking any action.
My commitment to you is that I will be a constant advocate for our environment. Environmental Stewardship demands a new mindset. It’s not just about remedial spending programs. It must be the prism through which we evaluate redevelopment and its effects, this guarantees environmental, economic, and a sustainable quality of life for our residents.
My Plan for a Healthy Environment:
- Prioritize clean water by accelerating the timeline and funding for stormwater improvements and lake remediation without the requirement of additional taxes or fees.
- Properly fund the initiative by allocating an additional $15M from the 1-cent Collier County Sales Tax over the next five years to the Stormwater Master Plan.
- Incorporate environmental standards into our building codes. Enforce our zoning and land codes. Responsible growth means a better environment.
- Fast-Track the removal of all beach outfall pipes that discharge pollutants and compromise our beaches. Improve the project to remove nitrogen and phosphorus which feeds red tide.
- Create an Independent City Environmental Task Force to focus on the issue and support our initiatives.
- Develop relationships of influence with Collier County to protect our waterways. Engage in a cooperative effort to immediately correct polluted discharges into our Bay from the Golden Gate Canal.
- Form alliances with the State and the South Florida Water Management District to address broader problems that cross governmental boundaries.
With your support, together we can protect and invigorate what makes Naples so unique, it’s natural beauty.
I hear your voice, and YOU WILL BE HEARD!