A Florida company plans to convert its 190-slip marina at Fort Myers’ Gulf Harbour Yacht & Country Club into the state’s first biodiesel fuel marina.BONITA SPRINGS, Florida 2002-03-04 [SolarAccess.com] WCI Communities, Inc., will offer its marina customers a biodiesel mix product made from 20 percent soybean oil and 80 percent fossil fuel beginning March 11. The company is also holding informational workshops to educate community boaters and area boat mechanics on the fuel source and its benefits. Karen Childress, WCI’s Environmental Stewardship Manager, said that by WCI’s use of alternative petroleum sources, the company is taking advantage of an opportunity to capitalize on alternative energy resources. “Secondly, our biodiesel use reduces harmful emissions in and around Gulf Harbour’s marina and adjacent waterways,” she said. “The switch to biodiesel in one of many steps WCI is taking with respect to environmental sustainability and responsible development.” Biodiesel is a diesel fuel alternative made from biological wastes such as soybean oil and recycled cooking grease. It produces fewer pollutants than petroleum diesel with the same power levels of conventional diesel fuel, and can be used without engine modification in any machinery that uses diesel fuel. Biodiesel is nonhazardous, biodegradable and gives off an exhaust some liken to the smell of popcorn. The change to biodiesel fuel at Gulf Harbour is part of a significant environmental commitment by WCI with regard to its marinas. In December 2001, WCI made a $200,000 commitment in partnership with Lee County to form the Lee County Manatee Protection Trust. The state’s first public-private partnership for manatee protection will provide educational instruction, printed materials, signs and displays to boaters for greater protection of the Florida manatee. Gulf Harbour has also received an award from the Environmental Protection Agency for an engineering design which allowed the marina basin to flush in fewer than six hours.