Frequently Asked Questions
- What does UEP stand for?
UEP stands for Utilities Extension Project.
- What is the Utilities Extension Project?
The Utilities Extension Project (UEP) extends City water, sewer and irrigation services to previously unserved are of the City of Cape Coral. As part of the improvements, new lift stations (pump stations) are added, and existing roads and storm drainage systems are reconstructed.
- Why is the UEP necessary?
Cape Coral originally was a low-density, rural community serviced by septic tanks and shallow groundwater wells. Today, with a larger population requiring fresh water, those same shallow wells are depleting the middle groundwater aquifer. Septic tanks are a proven solution for low-density rural areas but are not acceptable long-term solution for an urbanized area such as Cape Coral. The City's public wastewater system is a reliable form of collection, transmission, treatment and disposal of wastewater for an urbanized area such as Cape Coral.
- How will the City’s utility system work?
The City’s potable (drinking) water system source is groundwater pumped from deep wells situated in the Lower Hawthorn Aquifer. The groundwater is treated and then pumped into the distribution system. The UEP will connect to this existing water system, which provides a reliable source of high-quality drinking water to customers. The City uses a gravity sewer system, consisting of sewer lines and lift stations to collect the wastewater and transport it to the water reclamation facilities for treatment. Irrigation water is derived from two sources, reclaimed wastewater from the water reclamation facilities and surface water from the City's extensive freshwater canal network. Irrigation water from these two sources is distributed to customers through irrigation-only water lines and may be used to water lawns and landscaping. Cape Coral is a leader in water reuse technology, which is an important conservation tool.
- Who is performing the work?
To better serve the City of Cape Coral, contractors are pre-qualified. Only pre-qualified contractors are permitted to bid on the project. The lowest responsive, responsible bidder is selected to perform the work. Each contractor is responsible for providing quality workmanship and keeping the project on schedule. In additional, the City is utilizing a Construction Engineering and Inspection (CEI) consultant to assist City staff with inspections, material testing, public involvement and species management during the construction process.
- How is the project funded?
The City either typically obtains State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans or municipal bonds, which the City will pay back over 20 to 30 years. The City may utilizes commercial paper or short-term financing to accommodate project cash flow requirements.
- Do we have to connect to the new water, sewer and irrigation lines after they are installed?
Developed properties adjacent to water and sewer utilities must connect within 180 days of date on Notice of Availability Letter. Connection to the irrigation system is optional at this time. Undeveloped parcels are required to connect to water and sewer prior to Certificate of Occupancy.
- How long before I have to connect?
When the construction is complete and the utilities are online, homeowners will receive a “Notice of Availability” from the City and must connect to the new system within 180 days.
- Where do I obtain a permit and water meter and what are the fees?
The property owners or their plumbing contractors can obtain the permit for a 5/8” water meter for a typical residential home on the first floor of City Hall at the Billing Services Water/Sewer Department, 1015 Cultural Park Boulevard, Cape Coral. The meter installation fee is $310.00. The utility account deposit is $100.00 and Septic Abandonment Permit Fee is $100.00. These fees must be paid prior to connecting to the new utilities. After payment(s) is received, City personnel will physically install the water meter followed by inspection of the water, sewer and irrigation services for the property.
- Do I have to pay a deposit fee?
To eliminate the deposit fee the City of Cape Coral requires a letter of good standing. Per City Code the letter may come from any utility company. The letter must show a 24-month history with no late payments during the preceding 12 months.
- How do I connect to the new system?
To complete the connection to the new service, contact a local, City of Cape Coral licensed plumber. They will coordinate the connection process with the City for permitting and explain their procedure.
- Do existing water wells and septic tanks need to be removed?
After connection to the City’s utility system, septic tanks will no longer be needed. They do not have to be removed but they must be collapsed and abandoned. This work can be performed by the plumber. Water wells can remain intact as an irrigation water supply. However, a home or business is required to connect to the City’s drinking water and sewer systems.
- Where can I view City codes and requirements pertaining to utilities connections and abandonment of the old system?
*Please see Chapter 19 of the City Code of Ordinances regarding requirements to connect. These are available on the City’s website or Municode. Section 19-2.5 pertains to connection to the water and sewer system.
*In reference to plumbing codes for service laterals, please see the 2017 Florida Building Code-Plumbing, available on the City’s website under Building Codes.
- What is the quality of the City’s potable water?
- What if I cannot afford to pay my utilities assessment?
The City provides a Hardship Deferral Option for permanent residents of Cape Coral. Residents must meet specific income guidelines as established by the federal government. The City also offers financial assistance through Community Development Block Grants to very low income families to connect to the system.
- Can I pay off an assessment?
After the assessments have been levied, if you did not prepay the assessments by July 31, you will pay Amortized Payments. Annual installments are calculated during the months of August and September each year. Therefore, after July 31, benefited property owners may also pay off the imposed special assessment by paying the annual assessment amount included on the tax bill to the Lee County Tax Collector and the remaining principal balance of the assessment to the City of Cape Coral. Any one or all of the assessments may be paid in full. Upon payment in full of both the annual assessment (to the Lee County Tax Collector) and the remaining principal balance of the assessment (to the City of Cape Coral), the assessment will no longer appear on the tax bill.
- Is the cost of driveway replacement included in the assessment?
Yes. The portion of the driveway that the Contractor removes to construct the water, irrigation or force mains will be replaced by the Contractor at no additional cost to the property owner.
- What is the cost of having a septic tank pumped and demolished?
Based on recent experience with North 2 UEP, the costs to have all three utilities (water, sewer and irrigation) connected from the property line to the home is roughly $2,000 - $2,500, including septic tank pump-out and abandonment. The Health Department also charges a $100 septic tank abandonment fee.
- Why doesn’t the City defer the line extension (square foot) and CFEC assessments for undeveloped parcels?
The UEP is funded by assessments imposed on the properties benefiting from the project. Currently, The City has arranged for low interest loans to provide an affordable means for property owners to pay the assessments over 6 years (CFEC) and 20 years (Line Extension) periods. The years associated with repayment are subject to change based on each project. The assessment methodology proposed by the City provides a fair, equitable and predictable means for funding the proposed improvements.
- If a property owner pays for the irrigation assessment but elects to continue to use there well for irrigation, will that property owner be billed monthly?
Connection to the irrigation system is not mandatory. The property owner is billed a monthly charge for irrigation if connected. If not connected, there is not a monthly charge for irrigation.
- If I sell the property and have not prepaid, do I have to pay the assessments?
Typically, if you participate in the Amortized Payment Option, you do not have to pay off the assessment if you sell the property. The assessment continues to be assessed against the property regardless of the owner. However, there are some exceptions. You will be required to pay all remaining assessment balances in full if (1) the Tax Parcel is acquired by a public entity (other than the City) through condemnation, negotiated sale or otherwise, or (2) a tax certificate has been issued and remains outstanding in respect of the Tax Parcel and the City, at its sole option, elects to accelerate the assessment. The assessment is imposed annually on the tax bill for the property. However, please note that some banks and other lending institutions may require payment in full.
- Do I have to choose the same payment option for each assessment?
No. You can elect a different payment option for each assessment. For example, if your property is receiving three utility services (potable water, wastewater and irrigation), you could elect the Initial Prepayment for potable water, the Adjusted Prepayment for wastewater, and the Amortized Payment Option for irrigation.
- What is the City’s methodology for assessing property owners for the extension of water, sewer and irrigation mains?
The Line Extension assessment methodology is based on an equivalent parcel (EP) unit of 10,000 sf. City Council has considered alternative methodologies and has determined the EP methodology is the most equitable approach for this project.
- If I participate in the Amortized Payment Option, can the annual installment be escrowed with my home mortgage payment?
Yes. If you make monthly payments that include an escrow for property taxes, then the non-ad valorem assessments will be added into the payment amount. You will probably be contacted by your escrow agent regarding the increase in the escrow amount. As soon as the assessment is approved, it is advisable that you contact your mortgage company or escrow agent as soon as possible after that to begin escrowing the annual installment that will be due.
- Is there a discount for disabled veterans or senior citizens?
No. However, disabled veterans and senior citizens may qualify for the City's hardship program that assists individuals and families based on income qualifications. Please call (239) 242-3852 and ask to talk to a City staff member regarding the hardship program.
- Do we have to connect to the new lines after they are installed?
Yes. State law requires that anyone adjacent to these utilities connect to water and wastewater. You are not required to connect to the irrigation water system; however, you are still required to pay the assessment. You will receive a "Notice of Availability" letter when your particular area has been approved for connection. This mailing will outline the process and time period for connection.
- What if I cannot afford to pay the plumber’s connection?
The City has provided grant funding to Cape Coral Housing Development Corporation to assist homeowners with the cost of connecting to City water and sewer in the Utility Extension Areas. Income eligible homeowners may be eligible to receive a grant of up to $2,000, which may be used to run the lines from the street to the home, the septic abandonment and meter fees.
<Back to top of page>
- Where will the work take place?
Construction will primarily take place within the street right-of-way, which is property owned by the City to use for utilities and other infrastructure needs. The right-of-way includes the roadway pavement and swales on either side of the pavement.
- Why are there construction supplies stored on vacant property?
Upon satisfaction of certain stipulations, contractors are permitted to utilize vacant City-owned and privately-owned property to store construction supplies, equipment and vehicles. Availability of these staging and storage areas allows the contractors to work more efficiently and reduces the overall cost of the project. Stored supplies may include piles of stone, dirt, pipes, steel, heavy equipment, vehicles and other construction materials. Rock crushing and other intensive processing activities are limited to specific sites where the potential impacts to neighboring properties can be minimized.
- How will construction work be accomplished?
Three new pipelines are being installed. These include water, sewer and irrigation. The new sewer mains are being installed along the centerline of the street. Water and irrigation mains are placed along opposite sides of the street, typically about 5 feet from the edge of pavement.
- What is the construction process?
Constructing the new City utility system involves numerous steps. The steps are listed on this website under UEP Home, construction process tab.
- How will I be notified of construction activities?
Tenants, residents and business operators will be notified of construction via door hangers, in person and printed notices. Construction representatives will coordinate with those affected by driveway closures, mailbox relocation and landscaping removal, if necessary.
- When will construction start in my neighborhood?
The schedule for each contract varies. Residents and businesses will be notified by a flyer or by a construction representative prior to work starting. The generalized construction schedules will also be posted on the website.
- Will there be road closures and detours?
Road closures will be necessary to construct this project. Detours will be clearly marked with signs prior to any road closures. Major road detours and closures will posted on the Traffic Advisory page.
- Will I be able to get in and out of my driveway during construction?
We understand that construction is an inconvenience. Maintaining access to homes and businesses is a priority. During active trench excavation and some other activities, such as street paving or driveway construction driveway access may be restricted. Construction representatives will attempt to contact residents prior to driveway disruptions.
- Will construction affect garbage pickup and mail delivery?
At times, your garbage pickup and mail delivery may be affected. Construction representatives will work with Waste Pro and the U.S. Postal Service to minimize service disruptions. If the garbage is not picked up on the regularly scheduled day, it will be picked up as vehicles are able to travel through the neighborhood. Mail service will continue as scheduled, but some service disruption may occur. The post office is aware of street closures and will make every attempt to deliver mail without interruption.
- Will school bus stop locations change?
If it becomes necessary to relocate a bus stop temporarily due to construction activities the bus driver will notify students.
- When will the contractor work?
Construction crews typically work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, and some Saturdays, if necessary and approved by the City.
- Will the work be noisy?
The installation of City utilities requires the use of heavy equipment, which means that noise is inevitable. Heavy equipment is used to dig trenches, remove asphalt, grade dirt and perform many other construction activities. De-watering pumps may be in place and operating for numerous days to provide a dry trench for pipe and structure installation. Construction crews mitigate noise impacts by placing pumps away from the homes and utilizing sound attenuating structures.
- What will happen to the landscaping and specialty mailboxes in front of the homes?
Landscaping material (such as palm trees) and mailboxes located within the right-of-way will need to be removed to accommodate pipe installation. Should landscaping material and/or mailboxes need to be removed, residents will be notified by a construction representative. Sod removed by the contractor for construction will be replaced with the same type of sod upon project completion.
- How much of my driveway and lawn will be disturbed?
Private driveways and other improvements within the right-of-way, such as mailboxes, landscaping, etc. may be impacted from the edge of pavement to the right-of-way line. The driveway(s), mailboxes, sod and swales will be replaced by the contractor to the condition it was before construction.
- When the contractor tears up the driveway, how do they fill it in to match?
Driveway replacement varies in accordance with the type and thickness of the existing driveway. In general, replacement is as follows:
Concrete - The contractor will typically sawcut the existing driveway approximately 8 feet from the edge of pavement to provide adequate room to install utility mains approximately 5 feet from the pavement. The new driveway concrete will be replaced to match the new roadway edge of pavement. This will normally be in the same location of the existing roadway pavement unless widening is proposed.
Painted/Stamped/Pavers (Decorative) – For pipe mains 8” or less, the contractor will bore under the driveway and for pipe mains 10” or greater the contractor will remove and replace the section of driveway.
- What safety precautions should we take?
Safety is always the City of Cape Coral’s number one priority. Each construction site adheres to strict safety standards. Please discourage children from playing in and near the construction site. Also, please pay strict attention to road closures and utilize the detours.
- How do I know if my street is closed?
Street closures are a necessary part of the project. A construction representative will attempt to notify tenants, residents and business operators of pending street closures. All long-term street closures are posted on this website under traffic advisory.
- What is the process and timeline for street paving after utilities are installed?
Streets will be paved in two lifts or stages. The first lift will immediately follow installation of underground utilities. Typically, the timeframe between removal of the existing road (pulverize) and installation of the first lift of pavement will be approximately 5-6 months. The second lift of pavement will be installed a minimum of six months after the first pavement lift to provide time for the plumber’s connection to occur.
- Will my property be restored once construction is complete?
Yes, streets will be repaired or replaced, and sod, sprinkler systems and portions of driveways within the right-of-way will be restored to like conditions. If your property has any landscape materials, trees, shrubs, decorative fencing, etc., located within the right-of-way that will conflict with construction, the contractor will contact you regarding the conflict. Typically, items within the right-of-way that present a conflict must be removed within 60 days of notification of the conflict. If they are not removed, the contractor is authorized to remove and dispose of any of those items in the way of construction, per City Ordinance 83-93.
- I am building a new house in the next Utilities Extension Area. Do I have to install a well and septic tank system if City utilities are coming?
No. You can obtain a Hold Harmless Utility Agreement from the City of Cape Coral Building Division located on the first floor of City Hall. However, if you sign the Hold Harmless Agreement and proceed with construction without well and septic, the Certificate of Occupancy will not be issued until the City has completed installation of the utilities and the building is connected to the City utility systems.
- What is the process for abandonment of the septic tank?
The Health Department requires pump-out of the septic tank prior to demolition. Costs of the pump-out and septic tank demolition are typically included in the contract for the plumber's connection.
- Does the person who demolishes the septic tank need to be a licensed plumber?
Yes, unless the property owner self-performs the work.
- Do I retain my well equipment like the holding tank?
Well and septic systems are on private property and are not impacted by the UEP construction, which is conducted in the right-of-way. The property owner is responsible for the plumber's connection and for disposal of any remaining equipment.
- Who is responsible for damage to vehicles such as rocks, etc. incurred from construction equipment used by contractors?
The construction contractors will be responsible for repairing construction-related damage. You may report any damage through 311, formerly known as the Citizens Action Center. A toll-free number will also be available during construction. A representative will contact you to assist in resolution of your claim.
- Will construction affect trash pickup and mail delivery?
At times, your trash, recycle or yard waste pickup or mail delivery may be affected. Construction representatives are working with your trash hauler (Waste Pro) and the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) to minimize service disruptions. If your trash is not picked up on the regularly scheduled day, please leave your container(s) out one to two additional days to give trash hauler extra time needed for pick up. USPS is aware of street closures and mail service is expected to continue as scheduled; however, some service disruption may occur.
If you are experiencing disruption of trash pickup or mail delivery, please contact: The UEP Hotline at (833) CAPE UEP (227-3837). It will be reported to the appropriate agency.
- Who do I call if I have questions or concerns during construction?
For questions related to the Utilities Extension Project: Please call 1-833-227-3837 (833-CAPE-UEP).
For any other questions: Please contact the 311 Call Center by dialing 3-1-1 or (239) 574-0425.