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Fort Myers apologizes for city’s slow response to boil water notice

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The deputy mayor of Fort Myers has issued an apology for the city’s slow response time in keeping the public informed and updated after an advisory to boil water prior to consumption was issued Friday.

Friday saw the rupture of a 16-inch water main near Kingsbridge Boulevard and Bathgate Avenue. Officials from the city advised that boiling water be used before drinking.

The water-line break created temporary loss of pressure in the city water system. The city took the plant off-line as a safety measure, to be sure that the temporary loss of pressure did not allow contamination of the water supply.

Sunday afternoon, a second break was discovered at Water Color Way, between Colonial Boulevard and Winkler Avenue. That break, termed unrelated by city officials, prompted advice to some residents to continue boiling water as a precaution. 

Johnny Streets Jr., City Councilman, said that he personally apologized to all businesses and constituents for the way the communications system was implemented. He promised that he would immediately address the issue.

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Streets was elected council vice mayor for the current term. He picks up some mayoral duties while Mayor Kevin Anderson is out of state.

“Generators used to keep the pressure in the water system strong enough to force water through the system were automatically triggered and resulted in only a trickle of power,” said Streets, who was briefed by City Manager Marty Lawing. “That’s why the system drained below what it was supposed to be at.

The scene of the water main break, Kingsbridge Boulevard and Bathgate Avenue, is in the  Arborwood Preserve community development district. It’s located east of Treeline Avenue and west from Gateway in an area of gated community.

The city first issued an advisory to residents hooked up to the city water system to boil water on Friday and repeated the advisory with identical notices on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

Fort Myers Public Works director Richard Mouton and Marty Lawing were not available to answer calls about the current status of water problems.

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Bottled water was one alternative to boiling drinking water as Fort Myers engineers worked to correct problems at the city water works.

The city ran a brief message at the top of its internet home page, but gave little public notice about the work to restore a safe water supply through the day Monday.

Streets stated that she first noticed the problem at Saturday’s 9/11 remembrance service in Fort Myers. 

“I stopped to wash my hands and very little (water) got out,” Streets said. I don’t know what caused it.

While it was the city water system that issued the boil water notice, part of Fort Myers city is served by Lee County Utilities, a relic of the days before what was once part of the unincorporated county was annexed into the city of Fort Myers. 

Part of the Dunbar area, along parts of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, Ford Street and the west side of Veronica S. Shoemaker Blvd. Lee Utilities North Lee County water plant provides water. That facility is  between  Palm Beach Boulevard  and the Caloosahatchee River. 

Streets stated that he was disappointed with the city’s response to his request and in its system of keeping citizens informed. 

He said, “I am sorry to all our citizens and our business partners who were inconvenienced.” “I will make sure that I send a memo to the public works director and the city manager that we have to make sure that this never happens again.”

City officials said tests at 23 individual locations raised questions about water quality. Residents living in these areas were advised to boil as usual. 

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