UTILITIES EXTENSION PROJECT BACKGROUND
Cape Coral originally was a low-density, rural community with septic tanks and shallow groundwater wells. Today, these shallow wells are depleting the upper groundwater aquifer, while failed septic tank effluent can flow into groundwater and canals which has the potential to cause environmental problems.
The Utilities Extension Project (UEP) will provide City water, sewer and irrigation services to your area. In addition, new roads will be built as part of the sewer project along with storm water improvements. The City has extended utilities to nearly all of Cape Coral south of Pine Island Road.
The City’s utilities provide a reliable source of drinking water and wastewater services to the property owners in the area. The City completed the construction of a new water treatment facility in the North Cape with the expectation that utilities extension projects would continue in a sequenced fashion throughout the remainder of the areas of the City without utilities.
The City’s potable water system pulls its groundwater supply from deep wells situated in the Lower Hawthorn Aquifer. The water is treated and pumped into the distribution system. The extension project will connect into this existing water treatment system. The project provides the potable water lines to the property, and these lines are ready for homeowner connection.
The wastewater lines (or sanitary sewer) take the used potable water from a homeowner’s property. The City uses a gravity sewer system, which consists of sewer lines that collect and convey the wastewater flow to local lift stations. These lift stations pump the wastewater under pressure via force mains to the wastewater reclamation facilities for treatment.
The treated wastewater is pumped back to customers, through irrigation water lines, for watering their lawns. This re-use water is supplemented by canal water as necessary to meet peak demands. Cape Coral is a leader in water reuse technology, which is an important conservation tool.
Here are just a few of the benefits to extending City water, sewer and irrigation services:
- Customers will receive a dependable supply of high-quality, good tasting drinking water.
- Public Safety – Installation of fire hydrants in the area will provide a fire-flow system with a reliable water supply and pressure. This may lower homeowner insurance premiums. Please check with your insurance carrier.
- Water conservation for irrigation – The City operates an irrigation water system that provides a separate source of treated, reclaimed water for irrigation. This decreases the use of potable (drinking) water for irrigation, which conserves the drinking water. It also eliminates the need to discharge treated wastewater.
- Enhanced property values – Properties connected to a centralized water and sewer system will have an increased value over those with wells and septic systems.
- Economic growth – This will improve the quality of life for all Cape Coral citizens.
UTILITIES EXTENSION PROJECT UPDATE
The Final Assessment Resolution for the $103 Million Southwest 6 & 7 Utilities Extension Project (UEP) was approved by Council in August 2013. Based on today’s dollar, the SW 6 & 7 assessments are one of the lowest assessments since the UEP began in the 1990s. This is the only project to offer a 20% discount on the CFEC.
The City finalized an agreement with the FDEP in September 2013 securing a $90 Million low-interest rate State Revolving Fund loan for the Southwest 6 & 7 UEP. The low-interest rate loans will provide significant savings in interest costs for those who finance the project over the 20-year amortized payment schedule. Annual payments are not billed until November 2014 and are not due until April 1, 2015.
The City successfully bid and awarded seven (7) construction contracts totaling $73 Million with Notice to Proceed given in October 2013. The Southwest 6 & 7 project is presently under construction with final completion scheduled for April 2015.
In June 2014 Council approved City staff to begin the process to hire an outside consultant for design services for the estimated $137 Million North 2 UEP. City staff is presently preparing the Request for Proposals (RFP).
Also, in June 2014 Council approved the hiring of additional City staff to assist with the management and coordination of the North 2 design as well as North 1 and future UEP areas. The UEP office will be hiring two engineers and one CAD / GIS specialist.
The City’s Utilities Extension Division is presently made up of five people. The Utilities Extension Manager, Utilities Business Analyst and three Inspectors. The City has contracted with Tetra Tech for construction, engineering and inspection services for SW 6 & 7. If there are any questions, please call the SW 6 & 7 construction liaison at (239) 336-4399 or the Citizens Action Center at (239) 574-0425.
Finance Frequently Asked Questions
What if I cannot afford to pay my utilities assessments?
The City provides a Hardship Deferral Option for permanent residents of Cape Coral. Residents must meet specific income guidelines as established by the federal government. The City also offers financial assistance through Community Development Block Grants to very low income families to connect to the system.
Can I pay off an assessment?
- After the assessments have been levied, if you did not prepay the assessments by July 31, you will pay Amortized Payments. Annual installments are calculated during the months of August and September each year. Therefore, after July 31, benefited property owners may also pay off the imposed special assessment by paying the annual assessment amount included on the tax bill to the Lee County Tax Collector and the remaining principal balance of the assessment to the City of Cape Coral. Any one or all of the assessments may be paid in full. Upon payment in full of both the annual assessment (to the Lee County Tax Collector) and the remaining principal balance of the assessment (to the City of Cape Coral), the assessment will no longer appear on the tax bill.
If I sell the property and have not prepaid, do I have to pay the assessment?Typically, if you participate in the Amortized Payment Option, you do not have to pay off the assessment if you sell the property. The assessment continues to be assessed against the property regardless of the owner. However, there are some exceptions. You will be required to pay all remaining assessment balances in full if (1) the Tax Parcel is acquired by a public entity (other than the City) through condemnation, negotiated sale or otherwise, or (2) a tax certificate has been issued and remains outstanding in respect of the Tax Parcel and the City, at its sole option, elects to accelerate the assessment. The assessment is imposed annually on the tax bill for the property. However, please note that some banks and other lending institutions may require payment in full.
Do I have to choose the same payment option for each assessment?No. You can elect a different payment option for each assessment. For example, if your property is receiving three utility services (potable water, wastewater and irrigation), you could elect the Initial Prepayment for potable water, the Adjusted Prepayment for wastewater, and the Amortized Payment Option for irrigation.
If I participate in the Amortized Payment Option, can the annual installment be escrowed with my home mortgage payment?Yes. If you make monthly payments that include an escrow for property taxes, then the non-ad valorem assessments will be added into the payment amount. You will probably be contacted by your escrow agent regarding the increase in the escrow amount. As soon as the assessment is approved, it is advisable that you contact your mortgage company or escrow agent as soon as possible after that to begin escrowing the annual installment that will be due.
Do we have to connect to the new lines after they are installed?Yes. State law requires that anyone adjacent to these utilities connect to water and wastewater. You are not required to connect to the irrigation water system; however, you are still required to pay the assessment. You will receive a "Notice of Availability" letter when your particular area has been approved for connection. This mailing will outline the process and time period for connection.
What if I cannot afford to pay the plumber's connection?
The City has provided grant funding to Cape Coral Housing Development Corporation to assist homeowners with the cost of connecting to City water and sewer in the Utility Extension Areas. Income eligible homeowners may be eligible to receive a grant of up to $2,000, which may be used to run the lines from the street to the home, the septic abandonment and meter fees.
Construction Frequently Asked Questions
- Where will work take place?
Most construction will take place within the City’s right-of-way, which is property owned by the City to use for utilities and other infrastructure needs. The right-of-way includes the City street and a portion of areas on either side of the roadway.
Why are there construction supplies stored on vacant property?
With permission, contractors use vacant city owned and private property to store construction supplies, equipment and vehicles. Access to the storage areas allows the contractors to work more efficiently and is cost-effective. Stored supplies may include piles of stone, dirt, pipes, steel, heavy equipment, vehicles and other construction materials.
How will construction work be accomplished?There are three new pipelines being installed; water, sewer and irrigation. The new sewer lines are being installed in the center of the street. Water lines are placed along one side of the street while irrigation lines are placed on the other side both within the right-of-way.
What is the construction process?There are many steps in constructing the new City utility system. The steps are listed on this website under the construction tab, process.
How will I be notified of construction activities?Tenants, residents and business operators will be notified of construction via door hangers, in person and printed notices. Construction representatives will coordinate with those affected by driveway closures, mailbox relocation and landscaping removal, if necessary.
When will construction start in my neighborhood?The schedule for each project area will vary. Residents and businesses will be notified by a flyer or by a construction representative prior to work starting. The construction schedule will be posted on this website.
Will there be road closures and detours?Road closures will be necessary to construct this project and will vary from street to street. Detours will be clearly marked with signs, prior to any road closures. Major road detours and closures are posted on the Traffic Advisory page.
Will I be able to get in and out of my driveway during construction?We understand that construction is an inconvenience. Maintaining access to homes and businesses will be kept open as much as possible. There may be times where driveway access is restricted or inaccessible for a short period of time. Construction representatives will attempt to contact residents prior to any driveway disruptions.
Will construction affect garbage pickup and mail delivery?At times, your garbage pickup and mail delivery may be affected. Construction representatives will work with Waste Pro and the U.S. Postal Service to minimize any disruption. If the garbage is not picked up on the regularly scheduled day, it will be picked up as vehicles are able to travel through the neighborhood. Mail service will continue as scheduled, but some disruption may occur. The post office is aware of street closures and will make every attempt to deliver mail without interruption.
Will school bus stop locations change?If it becomes necessary to relocate a bus stop temporarily due to construction activities the bus driver will notify students.
When will the contractor work?Construction crews typically work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and some Saturdays, if necessary and approved by the City.
Will work be noisy?The installation of City utilities involves major construction activity, which means noise is inevitable. Heavy equipment is used to dig trenches, remove asphalt, grade dirt and perform many other construction activities. De-watering pumps may be in place for 14 days or longer and can be disruptive. Construction crews will make all attempts to minimize noise.
What will happen to the landscaping and specialty mailboxes in front of houses?Landscaping material (such as palm trees) and mailboxes located within the right-of-way will need to be removed to accommodate pipe installation. Should landscaping material and/or mailboxes need to be removed, residents will be notified by a construction representative. Sod removed by the contractor for construction will be replaced with the same type of sod upon project completion.
What safety precautions should we take?Safety is always the City of Cape Coral’s No. 1 priority. Each construction site adheres to strict safety standards. Please discourage children from playing in and near the construction site. Also, please pay strict attention to road closures and utilize the detours.
How do I know if my street is closed?Street closures are a necessary part of the project. A construction representative will attempt to notify tenants, residents and business operators of pending street closures. All long-term street closures are posted on this website under traffic advisory.
Will my property be restored once construction is complete?Yes, streets will be repaired or replaced, and sod, sprinkler systems and portions of driveways within the right-of-way will be restored to like conditions. If your property has any landscape materials, trees, shrubs, decorative fencing, etc., located within the right-of-way that will conflict with construction, the contractor will contact you regarding the conflict. Typically, items within the right-of-way that present a conflict must be removed within 60 days of notification of the conflict. If they are not removed, the contractor is authorized to remove and dispose of any of those items in the way of construction, per City Ordinance 83-93.
I am building a new house in the next Utilities Extension Area. Do I have to install a well and septic tank system if City utilities are coming?No. You can obtain a Hold Harmless Agreement from the City of Cape Coral Building Division located on the first floor of City Hall. However, if you sign the Hold Harmless Agreement, no Certificate of Occupancy will be issued until the City has completed installation of the utilities.
Who do I call if I have questions or concerns during construction?Contact Information:
Contact the 311 Call Center formerly the Citizens Action Center by dialing 311 or (239) 574-0425.