Featured Events

Community & Membership Meeting: Proton Therapy for Cancer

Learn about why Proton Therapy can provide an important alternative to traditional radiation treatment. This form of treatment which was only available in other parts of the USA now means that residents will have this form of treatment on their doorstep.

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Estero Park & Recreation Center, 9200 Corkscrew Palms Blvd
Estero, FL 33928 United States
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Village of Estero Meetings

01 May
9:30 am
14 May
15 May
9:30 am
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Safety Council

Engage Estero Safety Council is made of volunteers serving as a voice for the citizens of greater Estero on safety and transportation priorities and issues. We advocate for related solutions to Village, County, and State Government organizations.

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Road Safety in Greater Estero

Road Safety in Greater Estero

Road Safety in Greater Estero By Contributing Author, Mark Novitski, and Engage Estero Consultant.  Everyone has their definition of what determines road safety or, conversely, what makes our roads unsafe. In writing extensively about Corkscrew Road, I have...

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Sign-Up for Property Fraud Alerts

Sign-Up for Property Fraud Alerts

Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comprtroller Kevin Karnes is now offering an alert notification system for Lee County property owners to reduce fraud. When you sign-up, if a deed, mortgage, or other non-Court official record is recorded in your name, you will be...

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Environment Council

Engage Estero Environment Council is a volunteer group focusing on improving water and air quality and mitigating and eliminating the effects of climate warming in greater Estero.

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Health Council

Engage Estero Community Health Council comprises health* and safety-minded volunteers who think about community health comprehensively with a common desire to improve the overall health of the citizens of greater Estero.

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Let’s Make Estero A HeartSafe Community!

Let’s Make Estero A HeartSafe Community!

The facts Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is the leading cause of death in the United States, claiming more than 300,000 lives annually. Approximately 95 percent of SCA victims die before they reach a hospital or receive medical attention. How Can We Help Reduce This...

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Education Council

Engage Estero mobilizes volunteers in our schools, sponsors scholarships, and promotes the involvement of the community through announcements and public forums.

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Estero High Cambridge Students Recognized

Estero High Cambridge Students Recognized

By Mike Wasson, Director, Engage Estero The Village of Estero Council issued a Proclamation its Meeting on Wednesday, March 6th honoring 39 Estero High School Students who were presented the Cambridge Outstanding Learners Awards. In his remarks, Jon McLain, Village of...

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Updates on Issues of Impact

Engage Estero believes the best way to get a community involved is to make sure they are aware of the issues impacting their future, and know how to impact those decisions before they are made. We conduct and publish original research and articles aimed at getting residents Engaged.

The Dangers Associated with Septic Systems:

Why Estero Village Council Has Embarked on the Conversion of “Septic to Sewer”

Prepared by The ECCL’s team of Allan Bowditch, James Root, and Mark Novitski.

– Introduction

There are currently over 700 septic systems in the Estero area. While some of these were installed after 1980, when the State changed the drainage regulations, which addressed the potential of ground and surface water pollution from septic systems, most of Estero’s septic systems have been in place well before that time. Unfortunately, these older septic systems are failing. The houses with septic sewers are mainly located north of the Estero River, built in many cases before the building boom from 2000 to 2010. Many are in the water table, and seepage from the septic systems runs off into the Estero River.

In addition, many building lots are still available that are not on a municipal sanitary sewer system. These will require a hook-up to the municipal system before any construction is commenced.

Newer communities, which have given rise to Estero’s growth, were required to install a modern piped sewer and main structure. The cost of this was included in the purchase price of each home, apartment, or condominium.

Septic systems in Estero

Kayak on the Estero River

Why is there a concern about septic systems?

“Septic systems are an under-recognized cause of disease outbreaks,” said Jonathan Yoder, who leads the domestic water, sanitation, and hygiene epidemiology team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention1. “Septic systems, faulty units, and those that pass inspection nurture an undesirable group of bacteria, parasites, viruses, nutrients, and other contaminants in groundwater, streams, and soil. They represent a threat to human health in a country where public and regulatory attention is directed toward centralized wastewater treatment facilities.”

Not all systems are a problem, but an unknown number put human health and well-being at risk. Contaminants are spread in different manners, depending on soil and geology. Soil microbes generally do a good job removing bacteria from the waste, but the soil’s treatment capacity diminishes as more septic units crowd a parcel of land. Basic septic systems are not designed to remove other pollutants.

How it Works

Nitrogen, converted in the soil to nitrate, passes through largely untouched and can form contamination plumes in groundwater, leading to algae blooms. Nitrate can accumulate in specific subsoil areas, depending on the geology and soil characteristics. Pharmaceutical compounds are also not broken down in septic tanks and can affect fish and other aquatic species.

In 2020/21, FGCU’s Water School conducted a study that involved taking water samples from the Estero River. The analysis identified traces of enterococcus, a bacterium that lives in the intestines of humans and animals, together with E. coli. These are known as fecal indicator bacteria and are used to prove the presence of human fecal matter. FGCU Professor Donald Duke said, “although animal waste can also contribute, many indicators show that human waste is a part of the pollutants.”  The 13-month-long study selected seven locations along the Estero River. The findings showed the concentration of fecal indicator bacteria was “very high” in several areas on almost all the samples taken. 


Other causes

Apart from the problem with faulty septic systems, contamination is frequently caused when the septic tank level is below that of the high groundwater table. This scenario causes the system’s contents to mix with the groundwater finding its way into nearby lakes and rivers like the Estero river and out into the Estero Bay! It could also find its way into underground aquifers.

Families that use a private well for drinking water are most vulnerable to diseases spread by septic systems. Private well owners are generally not required to report water use, treat the water, or have it tested for contaminants. The lack of reporting requirements puts these families at greater risk than those using municipal water, tested dozens of times daily. Because of the lack of rules and regulations in the State, regarding septic systems, there is little that can be done to check on them or insist on remedial action for those causing contamination! In Estero, most homes with septic systems tend to be associated with older properties.

What action is being undertaken by Estero Village Council?

The Village Council has prioritized the plan to convert most of the homes with septic systems to municipal sewage systems. It is possible that those homes on high ground, not near the Estero River, will not be linked to the municipal system for logistical and cost reasons because they would be unlikely to contaminate the river.

The overall process will be divided into separate phases.

Phase 1: The Septic Package Plant Systems

(where one tank serves several homes using a centralized system)

The first phase, which involves several steps, will include those homes with a centralized septic system identified as a “package plant.” These are homes where several homes are linked to a large single septic tank. The homes in Estero that have this system will be the first to be converted to the municipal system.

As seen in the accompanying diagram, the design stage began in October 2021 and will be followed by permitting and bidding. The companies selected to conduct the phase 1 project will be made shortly, and construction and hook-up to the municipal sewage system should be concluded by July 2023. The homes involved are in Estero Bay Village, Cypress Bend RV Resort, and Sunny Grove.

The Village Council appreciates the need to minimize the cost involved for each household. However, it is not until the decision to select the vendors to conduct the work is made and accurate costs are determined that applications for grants to help minimize the project’s cost can be made. However, because this first phase involves the packaged systems, the overall cost for each conversion will be shared between the homes linked to the centralized septic unit. It is estimated that the per-home cost could be in the region of $6,000 to $9,000.

Subsequent phase (s) for Those with Individual Septic Systems

The design stage for the project’s next phase or phases will begin in July this year. Until this step has been completed, it is impossible to say whether all the subsequent “septic to sewer conversions” planned will be completed in a Phase 2 process or if the remaining work will be split into several phases. This decision will follow the permitting stage in May 2023.

For those homes with single septic systems, the final charge could be in the region of $50K- $75. Payment could then be spread over a 10- or 15-year period. Still, until the companies have been selected and applications for grants applied for, the final figure is difficult to determine at this time. Options to pay the charge as part of the annual property tax instead of a lump sum payment will be available.

The ECCL will continue to liaise with the Village and provide further updates as they become available. The ECCL will periodically update the timeline charts on the ECCL’s website www.esterotoday.com. For those likely to be affected by the “septic to sewer” conversion, please check back every few months to keep up to date with progress.


1 Septic System Pollution Contributes to Disease Outbreaks, Brett Walton, Groundwater, Infrastructure, North America, Pollution, Water News. November 25, 2015. https://www.circleofblue.org/2015/world/septic-system-ease-outbreaks/

Stay Informed

The ECCL will continue to monitor this process and keep residents apprised of the impacts for the community