Naples project seeks to improve water quality, reduce flooding

Hurricane Sally proved storms can leave behind water that sits in neighborhoods for days in Southwest Florida. The City of Naples is working to fix that.

“The neighborhood is beautiful,” neighbor Carol Mercogliano said. “That’s one thing. We love it here.”

Neighborhood beauty can change pretty quickly when a storm like Sally passes over the region.

“The flooding was pretty bad,” said neighbor Aiden Allgor.

“It’s like, ‘Oh, no; not again,’” Mercogliano said.

Mercogliano showed us how the bottom of her driveway was damaged from water that sat there for days after heavy rain from Sally.

“Look at the pavement; it’s all dirty, and you know, whatever,” Mercogliano said. “We try to clean it, clean it, and the water comes, and that’s it.”

Nearby, Mercogliano’s home is on the 15th Avenue North Lake. It’s one of three stormwater ponds the City of Naples plans to improve.

MORE: City of Naples Lakes Improvement Project

“The majority of these ponds, some of which are over 60 years old, have not had routine maintenance performed,” said Katie Laakkonen, an environmental specialist with the City of Naples.

The hope is this maintenance will help improve water quality and reduce flooding in the surrounding communities, first by removing several feet of muck and sediment, making more room for stormwater, and second by possibly installing motor operated gate valves.

“That could allow for more efficient control of water levels in the lake, and that would allow the ability to lower the lake for example prior to a storm,” Laakkonen said.

“They should come here when it’s pouring, and they’ll see what I’m talking about,” Mercogliano said.

The city wants to know what neighbors think of its plan. It’s accepting comments through Sept. 27.

Reporter:Rachel Cox-Rosen
Writer:Jack Lowenstein
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