Corporate land owner has a $124M deal to cut algae-based pollution in southwest Florida

Fort Myers-based Alico Inc. will build a 35,192-acre water-storage site in Hendry County designed to intercept algae-filled discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River

Alico Inc. owns 122,000 acres in Hendry County including this proposed "water farm" land. (Credit: Leah Voss| Treasure Coast Newspapers)
Alico Inc. owns 122,000 acres in Hendry County including this proposed "water farm" land. (Credit: Leah Voss| Treasure Coast Newspapers)

A Fort Myers-based public company will build a 35,192-acre water-storage site in Hendry County to reduce algae-based pollution of an estuary.

The South Florida Water Management District approved a permit for Alico Inc. to build and maintain the water-storage site, which will cost Florida taxpayers $124 million over 11 years.

Fort Myers-based Alico owns 122,000 acres of land in Florida, including wetlands in Hendry County where the company will build the water-storage site. Alico is a publicly held company listed on the NASDAQ market under ticker symbol ALCO.

The storage site is designed to collect algae-filled water discharged from Lake Okeechobee into the Caloosahatchee River and to minimize blue-green algae blooms in the river’s estuary near Fort Myers.

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The water district will pay Alico $4 million in the first year of their contract and $12 million annually for the next 10 years to store as much as 30 million gallons of water.

In the first year of the contract, Alico will build a four-foot berm around the 35,192-acre water-storage site and procure pipes to bring water from the Caloosahatchee River to the site.

In Martin County, a similar water-storage site known as the Caulkins Water Farm collects discharges of algae-laden water from Lake Okeechobee to protect the St. Lucie River’s estuary in the Stuart area.

TCPalm reported in 2015 that the Alico water-storage site will cost considerably more: $356 for every million gallons of contacted water storage, compared to $233 at the Caulkins water-storage site. – Mike Seemuth