VENICE, FL - A project spearheaded by the city of Venice to treat stormwater runoff before it reaches the Gulf is hitting a snag. Homeowners near the beach and where an outfall swale is planned say it will be unsightly and isn't the best option.
City engineers like Kathleen Weeden have been working to clean the city's underground drainage system to try and keep bacteria filled water from pouring into the Gulf. Something which in the past has been blamed for beach closures. They now have a new plan to build a large retention area near the beach where water will be pumped and the suns ultra violet rays can break the bacteria down. "This would be a more permanent solution. Instead of letting the water sit we would pump on a regular basis the water in its rain state instead of letting it sit in the pipes and have time to stagnate."
"It would take away from the natural look," says part time resident Mike Kresovich. A roughly $500,000 project. 75% is being paid for by the state and the South West Florida Water Management District. "Put stuff around it and make it look good. Not an eyesore If it is something that is necessary."
Some residents, especially those who live along the stretch of beach say it's not right. Both aesthetically and environmentally. "We are going to have all these posts and ropes and ditches and erosion as a result of pumping waste onto the beach." Homeowner Bill Williams says they don't want the city to lose the grant money but want it to be used towards something better underground. "We just want to be heard. We want to sit down with the city and iron out an underground system."
Williams and others believe the costs and impact could be similar. City officials are hesitant to talk about other options citing pending legal action. They have noted in the past that something underground would cause similar problems and pipes more offshore would cost much more. "The beach water quality is our councils number one priority. It's very important to our area," says Weeden.
The city says they have the permits and are ready to go. However, homeowners here have petitioned the South West Florida Water Management District and will have a hearing.